Two big storylines emerged from SU’s 80-49 exhibition win over The College of Saint Rose on Thursday. The first was the shining debuts of Buddy Boeheim and Elijah Hughes. Each newcomer went for 19 points and shot over 40% from beyond the arc to get their Syracuse careers “officially” underway.
The other big plot line of the game came from Tyus Battle and not in the way we’re used to seeing from the junior. Battle notched just 7 points and perhaps even worse than that low output was the fact that he went just 1-10 from the field, a very uninspiring performance to say the least.
Now, to be fair those are two pretty important takeaways from the game considering the fact that Battle is supposed to be the team’s best returning player and because there’s a lot of hype surrounding both Hughes and Boeheim. However, everybody seems to be missing the real standout star of the night for Syracuse.
Budding superstar Oshae Brissett led all scorers with 22 points to go along with a game-high 14 rebounds in a stellar double-double performance.
Somehow the team’s leading scorer and rebounder in the game is barely being talked about and it’s actually baffling as to why nobody is paying any attention to him.
Your first argument might be that Hughes and Boeheim’s performances were more impressive because they shot the ball better from deep. Not so fast my friend. Brissett, who led the Orange in three-point shooting a year ago, went 3-7 from beyond the arc on Thursday, the same exact mark that the team’s new marksman, Boeheim, put up and just one miss worse than Hughes’s 3-6 line.
Well, what about some of Oshae’s missed opportunities near the rim, you ask. Well, if we’re going to bring up wasted opportunities, we should probably look at Boeheim’s three turnovers and some sloppy decision-making from Hughes in the early going.
The lack of reaction to Brissett after this game is almost a microcosm of the lack of appreciation and praise for Brissett from Syracuse fans and media members alike since he first came to Central New York last fall.
This is a guy that came into his freshman year as a four-star recruit with far less hype surrounding him than he should have. For goodness sakes, he was named the best high school basketball player in all of Canada and yet still nobody seemed more than just a little excited when he signed with the Orange. He was simply seen as the top recruit in one of the weakest classes in SU’s recent history, a guy that didn’t really move the needle. Then he actually took the floor.
He was one of the standout performers in last season’s Orange vs White scrimmage and continued to impress in the early portion of the season with double-doubles against both Cornell and Toledo in the first few weeks, before having a massive double-double outing (25 points and 14 rebounds) in a comeback win over Georgetown.
The Canadian may have also been the best player SU had in the NCAA Tournament. In the Orange’s run to the Sweet Sixteen, Brissett averaged 17 points and 9 rebounds per contest and was the key cog in the wins over Arizona State and Michigan State.
Brissett would go on to have a team-best 13 double-doubles in his freshman campaign, leading the way for the Orange in rebounding (8.8 rpg) and three-point percentage (33.1%) while finishing second in scoring (14.9 ppg) and in blocks (0.8 bpg). He was named to the ACC All-Freshman team after being one of the least-touted recruits in the conference at the beginning of the season.
The freshman did all of that while averaging the fifth most minutes in the country in his first year of collegiate basketball. He was also one of the best free throw shooters on the team (79%) and even went 16-for-16 from the stripe in a 25-point performance against Buffalo.
All of this is not to mention that Brissett is also one of the best defenders on the team and is by far the most athletic part of the bottom of the 2-3 zone. Those same long arms that help him grab rebounds make him incredibly valuable in getting into passing lanes and closing out on shooters on the perimeter.
Nobody saw this kind of incredible freshman season coming from Brissett, yet there he was to deliver every step of the way. Heck, after the year, the Orange faithful was even a bit concerned that he might leave school and declare early for the NBA Draft. He was massively under-hyped coming into the year and even after that magical freshman campaign, people still aren’t giving him the due he deserves.
Also, none of this is meant to be an indictment on Battle, Boeheim or Hughes. Tyus is still the team’s number one option until somebody takes that away from him (although Oshae could by the end of the season), while Boeheim and Hughes both had really fantastic games on Thursday and are going to be great players as the season rolls on.
This is simply just to point out that Oshae Brissett may be one of the most underrated commodities in the ACC (and could contend with Tyus Battle to be the team’s best player) and fans should start appreciating him more before it’s too late.