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Why Syracuse’s Chris McCullough Shouldn’t Go Pro Right Away

The frosh big man is quite talented, but the league can wait another year.

Over the course of his first nine games, freshman Chris McCullough has gotten the attention of NBA scouts. McCullough is averaging 14.4 PPG and 8.9 RPG, both second-highest on the squad behind senior Rakeem Christmas. McCullough’s hot start has put him at #11 on Chad Ford’s latest Big Board, and many are speculating that he will be the next one-and-done to come out of Syracuse.

 

McCullough has undoubtedly looked impressive in the early going, and at the season he may be a prospecct that teams will be looking at. However, if McCullough is thinking of his basketball future he’ll stay in Syracuse for at least another year.

 

McCullough has improvements that need to be made to his game before he’ll be ready for NBA play. At only 55 percent, free throw shooting is an obvious missing piece, but the shortcomings don’t end there. The freshman doesn’t take care of the ball well. McCullough has 21 turnovers, 10th highest in the ACC and second-highest on the squad behind freshman Kaleb Joseph.

 

Also, McCullough isn’t big enough for the NBA yet. 6’10” is plenty tall enough for a forward in the league, but 220 pounds is point guard weight. Big men don’t transition into the NBA as well as players that work on the perimeter such as Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, it takes time to build up the strength that you need to play physical basketball. McCullough can expect to get pushed around in the paint if he goes to the NBA without bulking up.

 

The extra year in college would likely help McCullough even if his game stays where it’s at now, simply because his supporting class is going to be a lot stronger. The Orange have one of the best recruiting classes in the country coming in, and are looking at a championship contending team. Team success looks good on a resume, and next year McCullough will have the opportunity to lead one of the best rosters that Syracuse has ever seen.

 

Another year at Syracuse would help with McCullough’s maturity as well. Experience will help with court awareness and make him a smarter player, and scouts like to see a player who is more than raw athleticism.

 

As far as the box scores go, the departure of Christmas would boost McCullough’s touches and get him the opportunity to play an even bigger role on the team.

 

Coach Jim Boeheim has always been against players leaving early. He’s seen too many players go to the NBA before they were ready and not make it past the D-League. McCullough’s game isn’t ready for the next level, but another year at Syracuse will help him get there.

 

If McCullough is thinking about what gives him the best chance to make it at the next level, he’ll keep his game on campus for a bit longer.

 

Posted:  Nathan Dickinson
The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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