Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, one of the most legendary basketball players in Syracuse University history, died on Wednesday at age 52, the school announced.
Washington was diagnosed last summer with a brain tumor and has undergone various treatments since the detection of the tumor.
Washington played at Syracuse from 1983 to 1986. He led Syracuse in both assists and steals in each of his three years at the school. He ended his career as SU’s all-time leader in assists and still ranks third all-time despite playing just three years. In his junior year, Washington led Syracuse in scoring at 17.3 points per game.
But it wasn’t just the points or the assists or the steals that made Washington special. It was how he scored those points or created those assists.
Washington played with flair, a style developed on the playgrounds of New York City, and he had a knack for rising to the occasion.
As a freshman, he stunned No. 16 Boston College with a buzzer-beating, half-court shot that remains one of the most memorable moments in the annals of Syracuse basketball. That shot had more significance than just a miraculous win over a ranked team. Syracuse had entered Pearl’s freshman year unranked. The Orangemen entered the top 20 the week after Washington’s half-court shot and remained there for the rest of his SU career.