It’s been 10 days since Syracuse’s basketball season came to a close. While many Orange hopefuls and “what-if” fans are still evaluating what could have been, realistically it’s now time to move on and look to the future.
With that in mind, it’s never too early to look ahead at SU’s next starting five, right?
Paschal Chukwu — Center
Now that Paschal Chukwu will be back on the court after recovering from an eye injury that kept him on the bench for most of this year, the 7’2” rising junior should be the starting center for the Orange.
In the seven games he played for SU this season (he didn’t start any of them), the Westport, Connecticut native sunk just 12 total points on just nine shot attempts. In that time, he had three steals and 14 blocks.
These numbers seem a bit unimpressive, but we have to remember that at some point Chukwu couldn’t even see. Also, he only averaged slightly over 15 minutes per game. With more playing time and as one of the older players on the team, Chukwu should see better numbers in 2017-2018 as long as he stays healthy.
Tyus Battle — Guard
Remember Tuys Battle? Yeah, he was the one who hit that buzzer-beater three-pointer at Clemson to win the game for Syracuse.
But while that’s one reason to remember his name, that’s not the only thing he did. The 6’6” rising sophomore scored in 33 of the 34 games in which he played (every game this season), 16 of which were in the double digits. He hit 60 threes, ranking the fourth most by a freshman in Syracuse program history.
While Battle averages 11.3 points per game overall this year, he averages over 17 points per game in the last seven games of the season.
Battle earned starting privileges early on in the season, and he chose to stay at SU rather than declare for the NBA draft. Continuing as a starter should give Battle even more minutes on the court (he averaged just over 30 minutes per game this season) and even more time to stack up numbers for the Orange.
Taurean Thompson — Forward
Taurean Thompson appeared in every game the Orange played this year, that that should remain the same heading into 2017-2018. The 6’10” sophomore only averaged 9.2 points per game over the course of the season, but he scored in the double digits in more than half the games this year.
His 0.188 three-point shooting isn’t something to praise highly, but his 0.546 overall scoring percentage did carry the team at some points this year.
Even in games he started, Thompson didn’t always get much time on the court, averaging just under 18 minutes per game. If he can keep putting the ball in the basket, however, Thompson should stay on the court much longer.
O’Shae Brissett — Forward
Now that Tyler Lydon has left the Hill, there is room for a new forward on the starting five. Who else should fill that role other than a four-star (three-star composite) Syracuse commit with a 0.95 (0.9181 composite) rating according to 247sports?
The 6’6” rising freshman is ranked as the number one player in his home state (province) of Ontario, Canada, ranking 29th overall at his position according to 247sports. In the under-18 Americas Championchips of the 2016 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Brissett posted a 0.411 field goal percentage, helping his team place at silver.
Brissett should be interesting to watch on the Orange next year as a new face in the Dome.
Howard Washington — Combo Guard
Howard Washington has a lot to offer in 2017-2018. The 6’3” rising freshman is ranked the number two player in his state (province) of Ontario, Canada according to 247sports, right behind Brissett.
As a Combo Guard, Washington provides the Orange with a lot of flexibility while on the court and while making substitutions. Washington does not fit perfectly into the power forward nor small forward descriptions but rather embodies qualities of both.
Washington had a 0.476 shooting percentage in 2016 in the adidas Nations event where his team took silver.
On the outside:
Bourama Sidibe — Power Forward
Let’s not forget about Bourama Sidibe who is in line to make contributions to the Orange as well. If Brissett or Thompson are not in the game, we could see Sidibe take over the court.
The New Jersey native is ranked as the fourth best player from his home state and 46th overall at his position, according to 247sports. At 6’9” tall, Sidibe helped his high school team post an overall 30-4 record on the season.
Okay, Boeheim won’t be playing on the court, but he is worth a quick mention at the end here as a big part of the team.
After news that head-coach-in-waiting Mike Hopkins was leaving Syracuse to take the head coaching job at the University of Washington in Seattle, Boeheim’s contract was extended.
Boeheim is not retiring after next season anymore.
So, some pieces are changing for Syracuse, and others are staying the same. As much fun as it is to speculate about the future, the real fun will come when watching these pieces come together as the colder months approach again.
But first, let’s enjoy summer.
Published: David Edelstein