On March 7 Rakeem Christmas will play his last game as a member of the Syracuse Orange. This season we’ve all gotten used to Christmas being the only producer in the front court (and at times the whole team for that matter), but luckily there’s more talent coming in and coming back to the squad to take Christmas’s place.
Returning: Chris McCullough and Dajuan Coleman
Chris McCullough could declare for the NBA Draft in the spring, but that decision is a long ways down the road. For now, let’s assume that he does come back. McCullough would be an obvious starter on next year’s team. He’s shown that he can play at a high level despite the slump he had before his injury. If he loses any minutes, it would only be because he was so overworked this year.
Having not played in what will be two years, there’s no telling what to expect out of DaJuan Coleman next year. Coleman has the potential to start alongside McCullough, but all players come back from injuries in different ways. If he lives up to expectations I could see Coleman getting solid minutes, but if the injury causes problems he’ll see a lot of bench.
Coming in: Moustapha Diagne, Tyler Lydon, and Thomas Bryant*
Like Christmas (before this year), Moustapha Diagne is known for his defense. A native of Senegal, his ability to protect the paint and play post defense would put him in the middle of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. He can block and get rebounds on both ends of the floor, which will help make up for what the Orange lose in Christmas.
Tyler Lydon is listed as a power forward, but won’t be playing there in college. He stands at 6’8”, but isn’t going to push anyone around the block at only 181 pounds. He can handle the ball well and shoot, so there shouldn’t be too many growing pains. His length will help the 2-3, but don’t expect him to size anyone up.
If (and at this point it’s a big if) the Orange is able to land Thomas Bryant, I’d put him as my favorite to start with McCullough. Bryant would be the top recruit on the Orange’s already impressive resume, and at 6’10” would make Syracuse a much bigger team. Less than a month ago Bryant was announced to the McDonald’s All American team, which is just another testament to his ability and potential.
The Orange will have a lot to look forward to next season. If Coleman is playing at full strength and Bryant chooses the Orange, this team’s front court could be one of the deepest and most skilled in the nation.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson