Syracuse is in the midst of another promising basketball season, where anything could happen if the Orange make March Madness. But let’s take a look at what the future has in store for SU.
Next year Jim Boeheim has to replace Frank Howard, and will likely need to replace Tyus Battle too. He already has Howard’s replacement on the roster, in Jalen Carey. The point guard was electric to start the season, but has since regressed significantly. He hasn’t had an injury, but it looks like he’s lost all confidence in his abilities. Right now he can barely keep from dribbling the ball off his foot.
This could be due to Boeheim’s coaching. Howard has struggled with similar confidence issues throughout his career. Carey seems so scared of being pulled after turning the ball over, that he’s afraid to make a play. He needs to get back to his slashing, dynamic style of basketball that can switch momentum in the blink of an eye. With Joe Girard or Buddy Boeheim on the court next season, Carey will have room to get to the bucket whenever he wants. He just needs to regain his confidence. An offseason in the program, where he directs the offense should help him find his lost swagger.
Speaking of Girard and Boeheim, Syracuse should be nasty from deep next season. We’ve seen what Buddy brings to the table. While he started off slow this year, he’s shot lights out recently. In the past four games he’s hit 14-21 threes and has become more willing to show off his lightning quick release. For the first time in a couple years, SU has a threat off the bench. Next year, Boeheim could slide into Battle’s slot. Of course, he’s not the playmaker Tyus is, but he’s a better shooter and knows a thing or two about the zone.
He’ll be joined by New York’s all time high school scoring leader. Girard recently tallied his 4,000th career point. Nobody else in New York has scored 3,000 in high school. He’s consistently dropping 50 points a game, and leads the country in scoring. Big things are expected from him for good reason. Even though he’s only 6-foot-1, defenders have to guard him all the way to midcourt. If there’s ever a player that can spread out a defense and create openings for teammates, it’s Joe Girard.
Of course, he isn’t coming to SU to spread out defenses. He’s coming to wear out the nets in the Carrier Dome. Girard isn’t just a scorer, he’s an efficient shooter. In his junior year of high school, he hit 45% of his threes, draining a total of 179 from deep. He also hit over 90% from the free throw line, making 250 shots from the charity stripe. A common comparison for Girard is Jimmer Fredette, who’s about the same size, played at the same high school, and can pull up from anywhere on the court. But Girard’s coach thinks the senior is actually more like Trae Young. That’s high praise, and shows that Girard’s handles are overlooked.
Girard gets most of the attention from SU’s recruiting class, but Boeheim’s bringing in a couple of other playmaking guards too. Brycen Goodine gets overlooked because of how long he’s been committed, but at 6-foot-4, Goodine has transitioned his game from a combo guard, to a point guard. The top-100 recruit can use his athleticism to burst to the hoop, but he’s also a deadeye from deep. On the Nike circuit, Goodine hit 48% of his threes and averaged almost 21 points.
Fellow wing player Quincy Guerrier could also make a big impact in his freshman season. He’s not ranked on recruiting sites since he’s from Canada, but many view him as a top-50 prospect. Similar to Oshae Brissett, he could contribute from day one. At 6-foot-7 he’ll likely play small forward, but he has the capability to sub in at shooting guard.
Finally SU found its big man of the class in John Bol-Ajak. He’s a low three-star recruit, but he tore his achilles in his junior year, which pushed him down the recruiting ranks. He’s also very raw since he’s only been playing basketball for three years. However, he has great range for a 6-foot-11 center. He’s not going to splash threes but he can hit 15-foot jumpers. That’s huge improvement over SU’s current centers who can barely hit shots three feet from the basket.
With the additions of the 2019 recruiting class to go along with Carey and Boeheim, Syracuse has shooters for the future. That could lead to a free-flowing offense filled with guys that let it fly. That’s something all Orange fans should look forward to.