Watching Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome literally make every shot they attempted last night got me thinking. Could Joe Girard sniff that level down the road?
Now before you start screaming his recruiting ranking at me, or lack thereof, hear me out. Yes, he is not even ranked inside the ESPN 100 right now and is 192 in his class, according to 247sports.com. Objectively, those ratings are below average for a Syracuse recruit. Anything outside the ESPN 100, typically signifies a player that’s going to have wait it out a little bit and work his way into the rotation after his underclassmen seasons. However, we know he is more than just his ratings. He’s the best scorer in New York State basketball history. Granted, he’s been doing it against pedestrian high school level competition but some of these stat lines are downright silly regardless of who you’re playing against.
Not to mention, we know he is at least somewhat elite at one skill. Shooting the three. And the 3 point line is essentially the same distance from the basket whether you’re in high school or college. Sure, It might take him some time to get confident with his shot out of the gates like Buddy Boeheim, but at a certain point there has to be some translation there. It’s not like he has to prove he can score down low against defenders that are two inches taller. That’s a different animal.
Of all the skills to be elite at, three point shooting is the most transferrable. Just look at Guy and Jerome. Sure they were both ESPN 100 guys. They’re also playing in one of the best systems in the country. These are all positives. However, Guy and Jerome are likely going to be All-Americans again this year because of basically one thing: if you leave them open from deep they will make you pay. Now couldn’t the same hold true for Girard?
I’m not saying it will be to the extent of Guy and Jerome. Those dudes are on another level. It’s not hyperbole to call them the splash brothers of college basketball and the scary thing is they’re both still just juniors. However, what Guy and Jerome have done this year and really throughout their careers does prove something that bodes well for SU’s incoming recruit.
They’re showing that there is still very much a place in college basketball for the Gerry McNamara type of scorer. Honestly, probably more than ever with the rate teams are shooting threes now. Not saying that was really in true jeopardy but with the rise of the one-and-done era all the hot commodities now are no longer the J.J. Redick’s and Grayson Allen’s. Instead, Duke is looking for the Zion’s and RJ Barrett’s.
College basketball is in this weird zone right now where the committee probably wants to give the Naismith Player of the Year award to a Grant Williams at Tennessee. The guy plays like 84 different instruments off the court, is the definition of a hard-working leader and “plays the right way.” He’s your Tyler Hansbrough. Unheralded to stardom. It’s the college basketball ideal of the American Dream. If the committee promotes that, hopefully the panic over the one-and-done era subsides.
There is just one problem: Zion Williamson is a better player. Even though he’s only a freshman and is doing it partially because of his physical gifts, an alien that came down to earth only to watch this college basketball season would pick Williamson as the best player in the country 50 times out of 50.
That’s a long tangent to say that just because they’re are more Zions and more hype around them nowadays, the G Mac, Kyle Guy’s of the world will still exist forever. Think about how many great shooters Syracuse has had under Boeheim. Rautins, Cooney, G Mac, Devendorf, the list goes on and on. Not to mention, Buddy. What he has done in ACC play is up there with some of the best stretches in recent memory.
It feels like a fantasy land to close your eyes and think of Buddy and Joey G making every ACC team pay from deep two or three years from now. I’m not saying they’re going to get to the level of Guy and Jerome. I’m also not saying Girard is going to be an All-American.
It’s just wrong to put that much pressure on a freshman. Now, I’ll admit the whole premise of writing this article goes against that theory. I’m guilty of the hype just as much as the next guy.
It’s hard to say definitively what Girard’s ceiling is. I want to say his ceiling is an All-ACC type scorer down the road, somewhat close to the level of Guy. We just haven’t seen him play enough. It’s like Elijah Hughes going into this year.
Girard doesn’t have a multitude of strengths. He doesn’t wow you with his vision. He doesn’t have highlight reel videos on YouTube of him finishing through traffic at the rim. He doesn’t look like some athletic freak. Honestly, he looks like an average Central New Yorker. However, he can shoot the lights out of the ball. Pretty much the same book holds true of Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome. We shouldn’t expect him to become those guys, but at the same time, why can’t he?