Last season, March was one of Oshae Brissett‚Äôs best months. So much so that there was talk that the freshman could be a potential one-and-done candidate. But after careful consideration, he returned for his sophomore season, despite getting hot in the final month of play. Last year, Brissett averaged 16.4 points and 8.8 rebounds in March, including two games with double-doubles of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Once thought to be a lock to leave after his sophomore year and a potential lottery pick, Brissett‚Äôs NBA stock has plummeted this season to off of draft boards. But that can all be forgiven with a hot stretch during college basketball‚Äôs most important month.
We have seen in previous years how a hot stretch worked Syracuse players into the NBA Draft. Back in 2016, Malachi Richardson seemed to be coming back or at risk of going undrafted. But three good tournament games solidified him in Orange lore and in the eyes of NBA executives.
So far through a limited sample, Brissett has had one good and one lackluster game this month. But what he has done is improve the areas that have haunted him through his sophomore year. He hasn‚Äôt missed a free throw (7-for-7) and has limited his attempts while increasing his efficiency from three (2-for-4). But these aren‚Äôt the games where eyes are fully peeled. Those are coming this week in Charlotte and wherever the Orange may end up in the NCAA Tournament.
If Brissett can play like he did last year in the postseason, and perhaps even better, then he can re-enter his name into the NBA Draft conversation. But it will have to take effective numbers with efficient shooting. He has the tools to be an NBA guy. His frame screams pro more so than any other player on the Orange roster and his athleticism is elite.
But forget personal reasons. Brissett needs to be a factor if Syracuse wants to make any noise in the postseason. With Frank Howard‚Äôs frequent offensive struggles and the occasional down games for either Tyus Battle and Elijah Hughes. We really haven‚Äôt seen a game where all four guys have been clicking together at once. If Brissett can be a steady player on both sides of the ball in March, then SU needs two of the three of Battle, Hughes and Howard to be impact offensive players.
There‚Äôs win-win in all of this. If Brissett plays well, personally he works his way back into the conversation of collecting an NBA check sooner than later. And as a team, the Orange has a much better chance of winning. All of this makes Brissett the team‚Äôs x-factor for the entire month of March.