Now that the magical ride is finally over, let’s take the mandatory way too early look at next year’s SU basketball roster.
Disclaimer: For the sake of this hypothetical let’s just assume everyone is coming back. Obviously, there are approximately 50 variables that could change the landscape of this roster next year from the draft decisions of Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett, to the possibility of players transferring or redshirting and obviously injuries. For example, we never could have predicted that Geno Thorpe and Taurean Thompson would leave the team and injuries would impact Howard Washington, Bourama Sidibe and Matt Moyer when we made this last year.
Alright, now that we got that out of the way and acknowledged the fact that this list will probably be completely inaccurate by the time the season actually tips off, let’s have some fun.
Point Guards: Frank Howard, Jalen Carey, Howard Washington
Really don’t see a scenario where Frank isn’t starting for the entire season. He obviously has flaws and wasn’t all that great in the tourney, specifically the Duke game, but he’s still a senior with an improved jump shot, lots of length and tons of experience playing the zone.
Not to mention, it’s hard to imagine Boeheim giving the keys to a freshmen floor general out of the gates and Carey strikes me as more of a combo-guard anyways.
There are obviously a lot of question marks around Washington. After all, Who knows if his leg injury will be fully healed and if he will be ready to go at the start of the season? I’m a big fan of the young guard but you’d have to think he’s third on the point guard depth chart right now.
Shooting Guards: Tyus Battle, Elijah Hughes
If I had to guess, I’d say Battle is going to the draft. It seems like his stock is as high it will be next year and he would become the 10th Syracuse player in the last 10 years to be selected in the first round if he left(which is quietly a pretty solid stretch by the way).
Obviously if Battle stays this team’s ceiling gets even higher. However, if my instincts are right and he does bounce for the draft, Hughes is still a really good starting two-guard in the ACC. That might sound premature to make that claim but there’s a ton of hype around him from within the program and I saw the ECU transfer at the Orange vs White scrimmage this year and he looked like one of best players on the floor.
Finally, I didn’t list Carey, Howard or Washington at the two-guard spot because they are listed above. But, to clarify, the three of them and even Buddy Boeheim could all play the two guard as well. So even if Battle jumps for the draft, bottom line is Syracuse will have WAY more depth at the guard spots than it did this year regardless.
Forwards: Oshae Brissett, Darius Bazley, Marek Dolezaj, Buddy Boeheim
Now, this hypothetical lineup gets really juicy. Talk about length, depth and athleticism at the forward spot. Even with the announcement that Matthew Moyer is going to transfer Monday, Boeheim still hasn’t had a crop of forwards as appealing as those four for the 2-3 zone in a long, long time.
Obviously, Brissett could go pro. But, what he said after the sweet 16 loss seems like a good sign to me. If he does comeback, the sky is obviously the limit for him and I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say he could make an All-ACC team next year.
Then you add Dolezaj, who transformed his game by the end of season and has plenty of potential in his own right. Plus, SU’s highest rated recruit since Carmelo Anthony and the prodigal son himself. That’s a group that might even make Jim Boeheim smile.
Centers: Paschal Chukwu, Bourama Sidibe
Rumor has it Sidibe is going to get knee surgery in the offseason. Assuming he comes back healthy, I think he could really make a leap in his sophomore season. Plus, another season of clutch free throws from the newly goggled Paschal Chukwu and that makes two very formidable anchors.
Now, let’s have some fun. Next year’s potential roster (pending some draft decisions):
PG: Frank Howard, Jalen Carey
SG: Tyus Battle, Elijah Hughes
SF: Oshae Brissett, Buddy Boeheim 🤞
PF: Marek Dolezaj, Darius Bazley
C: Paschal Chukwu, Bourama Sidibe
— Orange Fizz (@OrangeFizz) March 24, 2018
A lot’s up in the air and talent doesn’t always equate to wins, especially right away. But, man is that roster talented and deep. That’s 11 guys (ELEVEN!!) who could all play meaningful minutes next year. I honestly don’t know how Jimbo is going to handle that given his track-record of never going more than 7 or 8 deep, but I’m really excited to see how and the rest of Orange nation should be too.