If I asked you in early March of 2018 who Syracuse’s best freshman would be for the upcoming season, the no-brainer answer would have been Darius Bazley. If I asked you again one month later, it would have been Jalen Carey. Dare I asked you a third time in mid-November and you would’ve doubled down on your Carey pick.
But here we sit in February 2019, midway through the ACC schedule, and neither of those answers are right. Bazley is New Balance’s million dollar intern, preparing for the 2019 NBA Draft. Meanwhile, Carey is averaging 6.6 minutes per game in league play after never playing fewer than 15 minutes through the first six games, including two starts.
Since ACC play has kicked in, the no-doubt answer for the team’s top freshman is Buddy Boeheim. The Fizz talked to Bazley back when he was committed to the Orange and he said that the Brewster Academy product was more than just a coach’s son. He described Boeheim as a gym-rat and someone who certainly could play at the elite level of the ACC. Despite some early question marks and DNP coach’s decisions, Bazley seems to be right in his estimation of young Boeheim. He’s shooting 43.8 percent from three while averaging 6.9 points off the bench. He’s also appeared in every ACC game. On top of that, he’s been good defensively.
So the Class of 2018 isn’t shaping up how everyone thought. Carey, the lone top 100 commit, has taken a backseat at point guard, despite there being early opportunities from Frank Howard’s injury and inconsistent play. The next highest rated player, Robert Braswell, has appeared in 9 of the team’s 25 games. Yet Boeheim, ranked 347th by 247Sports, is blossoming as an all-around player. Sounds about as Syracuse as it gets, doesn’t it?
While Carey isn’t having the freshman season he or the team probably would have liked to have, Boeheim’s emergence has seemingly healed the wounds enough for the time being. Carey was expected to come in and provide another scoring option and getting Howard some rest. Boeheim has provided that. With his shooting and sliding Tyus Battle to the point guard position, Boeheim has indirectly done what Carey was expected to do.
Braswell didn’t have many expectations heading into the season, but neither did Boeheim. Braswell showed flashes of potential during his limited minutes against NC State when he picked up two first half steals, but never returned to the floor for meaningful playing time in the second half. He remains an enigma within the team in regards to how he will be utilized the rest of the season. But at least he has shown he can provide something for you at a moments notice.
The route from Point A to Point B hasn’t been the direct path the elder Boeheim probably anticipated. But a few missed turns and shortcuts later, the Orange appears to be right around where it expected with freshman production. But if the others step up, Syracuse’s youth will be way ahead of schedule.