It was announced early Tuesday that former Syracuse great, Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, passed away after a battle with brain tumor. Pearl was 52.
After growing up in Brooklyn and going to Boys and Girls High School, Washington decided to attend Syracuse and would become a renowned figure at the University. He spent three years as a member of the Orange under coach Jim Boeheim, was selected as a Consensus All-American as a sophomore, and the tournament in each of his three seasons.
The 6’2 guard averaged 15.7 points per game on 52.6% shooting and 2.3 steals during his time as a student-athlete and his best year came as a junior. Washington went on to average 17.3 points and 2.6 steals per game while shooting 53.5% from the field — Syracuse finished 26-6 and clinched a #2 seed in the tournament.
They faced Navy in the second round and got upset, 97-85. This was no ordinary Naval Academy team, however. Future NBA great David Robinson was a member of that team and dropped 35 points on the Orange that day; Pearl managed 28 himself.
Washington left after his junior year and was selected as the 13th overall pick in the 1986 draft, ahead of guys like Mark Price, Dennis Rodman, and Dell Curry. His game wasn’t able to adjust and Washington would spend just three years in the league — two with the Nets and one with the Miami Heat.
In 1996, Pearl became just the third player in Orange history to have their jersey retired, so he undoubtedly left a mark on the school. During this year’s magical run for Syracuse, the team wore warmups with ‘Pearl’ on the front as support for his recovery from brain cancer.
There was no better guy and there’s nobody who has meant more to our basketball program than Dwayne Washington.#CuseFamily
— Jim Boeheim (@therealboeheim) April 20, 2016