2003 was a tense year here in the states. The country was at war, Diddy's Making the Band had a must-watch kerfuffle every week, and Bartman. I don't need to say any more about that.
2003 was also a banner year in basketball. The Big East took home ANOTHER championship thanks to Carmelo Anthony and the Syracuse Orange. The man responsible for crying memes everywhere hung up his Mikes, unfortunately while wearing Washington Wizards colors. And before the summer of Kobe happened, the basketball world was up in arms over a group of freshmen who were about to take over the sport.
Without further ado, let's meet the Big East's contributions to the 2003 NBA Draft...
Carmelo Anthony - Syracuse
Melo almost didn't come home. He struggled to produce the minimum ACT score of 18 required to attend Syracuse, and his loved ones were unsure whether he'd declare for the 2002 Draft or go to college. Never one to pass up an opportunity to score, Melo got his 19, and back to New York he went, where he capped his one year at Syracuse with the school's first national championship. Melo was a man amongst kids even for a freshman, averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds per game, the latter leading all D-1 freshmen.
After leading the Orange to a title and a Most Outstanding Player award in the tournament, Melo opted into the 2003 Draft, where he was passed up by the Detroit Pistons (for Darko.........Darko. Milicic) and taken 3rd overall by the Denver Nuggets. He instantly turned around the fortunes of the NBA's laughingstock, helping the Nuggets qualify for the West playoffs as an eighth seed. Melo never missed the playoffs in Denver, but would only make it out of the first round once before forcing a trade to the New York Knicks, where he's been in basketball hell ever since.
Dwyane Wade - Marquette
Dwyane Wade never played a minute of Big East basketball, but he damn well could've. Wade played two seasons in Milwaukee, leading the Golden Eagles in scoring both years. Marquette finished 26-7 in 2002, their best season since the 1993-94 season. A year later, he led them to a 27-6 record and the school's only Conference USA title. Once the 2003 NCAA Tournament came, the dog that has come to define D-Wade's legacy came out in a major way. Taking on top-ranked #1 seeded Kentucky, Wade let loose for 29 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, the fourth triple-double in NCAA Tournament history, helping to lead Marquette over the Wildcats and into the school's first Final Four since the 1977 National Championship team.
The All-American declared for the draft, and was selected 5th overall by the Miami Heat, the highest Marquette player selected in the draft. Wade quickly emerged as a key contributor to the playoff-bound Heat, averaging 16.2 points on 45.6% shooting, and after a slow start, the Heat rebounded to a 42-40 record and the 4th seed in the East (yep). He would breakthrough a year later with the addition of Shaquille O'Neal, and in 2006 Wade willed Miami to the NBA Title, averaging 34.7 points per game en route to becoming the youngest Finals MVP of all-time. His PER of 33.8 was ranked the greatest Finals performance since the merger by ESPN's John Hollinger.....that is, until LeBron James bested him with a 35.1 PER in the 2016 Finals.
Wade has won two more titles with the Heat in 2012 and 2013, and has established himself as one of the greatest guards in the history of the NBA. Not too shabby for a kid from Marquette University.
David West - Xavier
Another guy that never suited up in the Big East, David West is the most decorated Xavier Musketeers ever. West started every game of his four-year career at Xavier, leading the Atlantic 10 in rebounding (9.1) as a rookie, winning the A-10 Player of the Year award in each of his final three seasons, A-10 Defensive Player of the Year as a junior, and the AP National Player of the Year and Oscar Roberson trophies as a senior. He averaged 17 points and 10.4 rebounds in his four years in Cincy, and was the second player in Xavier history to eclipse 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
West was drafted 18th overall by the New Orleans Hornets. it took a couple seasons before West broke through in 2006, averaging 17.4 points and 7.4 rebounds in 74 games. His production increased, making the All-Star team in 2008 and 2009. He left NOLA after eight seasons to join the Pacers, knocking on the door of the Finals twice before departing in 2014. After starting every game for 10 seasons, West took a reduced role with the San Antonio Spurs before the 2015-16 season, where he hopes to end his long career with that elusive championship ring.
Kyle Korver - Creighton
Korver started his college career as a vital member of the Bluejays' bench, making the Missouri Valley Conference's All-Bench, Newcomer and Freshman teams. He made the most of an increase of minutes the next year, taking Creighton to an MVC conference title his sophomore year and a regular season & conference championship his junior season. Korver ended his career as a two-time MVC Player of the Year, fourth all-time in scoring (1,801), first in three-pointers made (371), three-point percentage (45.3) and field goal percentage (89.1).
Korver was taken 51st overall in the second round by the Philadelphia 76ers, where he carved himself a nice niche as a three-point specialist before being shipped to the Utah Jazz, where he became one of the NBA's premier sixth men. After two years with the Chicago Bulls, he moved to the Atlanta Hawks, propelling himself to a full-time starter for the first time and being named to the All-Star team in 2015.