Coming into the year, if you asked someone who the Orange’s most intriguing player for 2017-18 was, you probably got answers like Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett, Frank Howard, etc. But that has definitely shifted with the emergence of Bourama Sidibe in the preseason.
Sidibe was a STAR in the preseason, so take that for what it is. But seriously, the freshman easily looked like the best player in his recruiting class, and certainly the best player in the frontcourt.
He uses every bit of his 6-foot-10 frame to block shots (he had 11 in the preseason), grab rebounds (20) and display some scoring prowess around the rim (18 points on 7-of-9 shooting). All of this came in just 40 total minutes of exhibition play. Whoa. This kid is special.
It doesn’t appear Sidibe will start out of the gate. He’s locked into a battle for that starting center spot with Paschal Chukwu. Although it seems like he is a more than capable of anchoring down the zone given his stellar rim protection, let’s see how things play out against real opponents. Sidibe could ultimately grab the starting spot midway through the season once Jim Boeheim has more confidence in the freshman. But at the same token, this could be a Dajuan Coleman-type situation. We might see Chukwu start every single game, go out and win the jump ball with his 7-foot-2 body, then get benched at the first timeout. In comes Sidibe who would play the bulk of the center minutes. After all, being a starter just means you get your name announced. It’s a title, albeit one that people get super wrapped up in, but it does not mean you’re the best player at the position.
Ultimately, Sidibe should emerge as the best big man on this team and anchor down a zone that Tyler Lydon’s departure leaves very inexperienced. But that lapse might not skip a beat with Sidibe’s presence. His rebounding is much needed down low for a team that has struggled to grab boards out of the zone.
Sidibe will get his opportunity. Can he make his gaudy preseason numbers translate to the regular season, and even more importantly, ACC play? The intrigue is real, now it’s on the big man to deliver.