The most important thing that can happen for the Orange between now and the end of May is having Malachi Richardson announce that he is returning to Syracuse for his sophomore season. Richardson has shown in certain games what he is capable of, none more so than the Elite Eight when he carried the Orange against Virginia, putting up 21 points in the second half.
However, there were times were Richardson looked like a freshman. He was inconsistent throughout most of the year and in some games, ice cold from the field. This is partially just the style of player that he is. He is a player that will shoot regardless of his field goal percentage that given day.
Richardson’s stats this past season were decent. He averaged just over 13 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists per game. He shot 37% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc. At times he looked like a polished basketball player. At other times, he looked like a freshman who was inhibited by his inexperience.
The most interesting part about Richardson’s draft prospects is that the “experts” can’t seem to agree on how high he would go if he does decide to leave Syracuse after one season. DraftExpress has him listed as the 57th ranked prospect. That is a late second round pick, bordering on going undrafted.
Sam Vecenie of CBSSports.com does not have Richardson ranked in his top 150 prospects. Interestingly, he has Tyler Lydon listed at 115. Both ESPN and Sports Illustrated have him outside their top 30 prospects.
However, new rules this season make it more complicated. Richardson can put his name in the mix for the NBA Draft, and as long as he does not hire an agent, he can go through the process and pull his name and come back to school. It is hard to see Richardson not submitting his name for consideration. This means that there is a possibility, when talking with GMs and scouts, he will be told a team is willing to take a chance on him.
If he is told that, it is certainly possible that he makes the jump and goes to the NBA. Richardson has the chance to be a star on a very good Syracuse team next season, but if he is told he will get drafted, he very well might decide to make the leap to professional basketball.