It’s far too early to know what Syracuse’s freshmen class will develop into. Joe Girard looks like he could develop into a key player for the next three or four years. Brycen Goodine seems like a solid role player. Jesse Edwards has shown an offensive skill set that Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj didn’t have in their first season. And Quincy Guerrier can attack defenses in the paint or on the wing.
So far Guerrier is 0 for 6 on threes and has hit just 60% of his free throws. But after an 89-67 victory over Seattle, Jim Boeheim mentioned that Guerrier has hit threes and free throws in practice, so he’s fine with Guerrier shooting. That was not the case for Marek Dolezaj in his first season. And generally freshman take time to adjust to college basketball and rid themselves of nerves, shooting in front of tens of thousands of fans.
In Buddy Boeheim’s first five games last season, he started 2 of 18 from deep. In his first two games Boeheim was 2-18 from the field. Guerrier hasn’t struggled to score in the paint – or draw fouls. Until he starts hitting threes, that’s where most of his damage will happen.
Even though Guerrier is averaging just over 14 minutes per game, he already leads the team in free throws attempted. The freshman brings athleticism that Dolezaj and Sidibe don’t possess. Against Seattle Guerrier blocked a shot in Eljiah Hughes fashion, and on the year only Hughes has more blocks. That’s not to say Guerrier is the athlete that Hughes is, but he’s close to that level than almost anyone else on the roster.
As the season progresses, and Guerrier theoretically improves, the Orange could turn to him to defend opponents bigs. In the past couple of years, Syracuse has been prone to blastings from opposing bigs. Remember when Wake Forest center Doral Moore visited the Dome? If it wasn’t for 34 from Tyus Battle, a nine win Demon Deacon squad would have shocked SU. Against Guerrier’s muscular frame, that probably doesn’t happen.
And if his offense wasn’t a one game fluke, that’s another box Jim Boeheim can check off the list. Last season the dangerous trio of Dolezaj, Sidibe, and Paschal Chukwu averaged a combined 10.4 points per game. Combined! Guerrier just dropped 14! And missed six free throws.
Maybe I’m getting a little carried away here, and I’ll stop before I proclaim Guerrier to be the savior in the paint Syracuse so desperately needs. He scored 14 points against Seattle. Let’s see what he can do against… ahem… real competition. But the early signs are promising. Take that with a grain of salt because the early signs on Jalen Carey also seemed promising. But hopefully this time is different. Guerrier has all the tools to be an important component for SU – not just in the future – but this season.