In the realativley recent past, Syracuse has produced some high caliber point guards. Michael Carter-Williams led the 2012-13 Orange to a Final Four and his successor, Tyler Ennis carried the Orange to a 25-0 start in 2013-14. There is no question that there has been a drop off in point guard play these past few seasons. Is it possible that the (seemingly) long wait for a consistent point guard is over? Well, he hasn’t played a game yet, but incoming freshman Howard Washington has already drawn some heft comparisons. In fact, he compared himself to the Syracuse alum and Los Angeles Lakers guard Tyler Ennis. Washington told Syracuse.co:
“Coach GMac and Coach Boeheim, that’s the first thing they said, I’m Tyler Ennis 2.0.”
Is that a fair comparison? Well it is hard to make such a clear comparison without seeing Washington play a game at the collegiate level, so let’s compare the things we can. In terms of size, the two guards are quite similar. Ennis was 6-2, 180 coming out of high school, according to 247 sports. Washington is listed at 6-3, 160, so he is a tiny bit taller but less bulky. However, we all know that Boeheim likes length and Washington has that. Ennis was certainly more highly touted coming out of high school as he was a five-star recruit and was the third ranked point guard in his class and the 23rd overall in the nation. Washington is ranked three stars and was the 14th ranked combo guard in the country. But as we all know, stars and rankings don’t mean all that much. If he plays a similar style of basketball to Ennis, he has the chance to be effective right off the bat. He may not be relied upon to take clutch shots like Ennis was (here is the link to the buzzer beater against Pitt. Just for fun) but that likely won’t be his job.
So what will his role be? Well, it is very likely that he will get playing time right away. The Orange are thin at the guard position, particularly at point guard. There is little doubt that junior Frank Howard will be the starting point guard on opening night against Cornell but after Howard, who does Jim Boeheim have to come off the bench. Last season, he dismissed the idea of Tyus Battle running the point and he really only has two other options, both of whom are first year players for the Orange. Off the bench, the Orange will have Geno Thorpe, a graduate transfer from South Florida, and Howard Washington. That is about it in terms of guys that could play the one, assuming that Boeheim hasn’t changed his mind about Battle.
While having three point guards may actually seem deep for the Orange, it still has to be considered the position with the most questions. Frank Howard has had a short leash in the past and if he does not do enough for Boeheim, freshman Howard Washington, aka Tyler Ennis 2.0, may see some significant minutes in his freshman season.