They took right up against the noon deadline on Saturday, but a year after advancing to the Elite Eight of The Basketball Tournament, Boeheim‚Äôs Army officially has its eight-man roster for the $2 million winner-take-all event all squared away and locked in.
Although it‚Äôs one player smaller and has a few big switches in the role player department, the core of last year‚Äôs Elite Eight roster will be back for GM Kevin Belbey and head coach Ryan Blackwell along with a couple of fun additions and a surprising newcomer with very few ties to Syracuse. Here‚Äôs how Boeheim‚Äôs Army stacks up for the 2019 TBT.
23 Eric Devendorf
This might be the least surprising thing to happen for anything related to Syracuse basketball in the last couple of years. Year in and year out, Devendorf is the leader, heart and soul, and quite often best player that Boeheim‚Äôs Army brings to TBT. As he showed throughout his career at Syracuse, he can still knock down any open jumper that stares him in the face and he‚Äôs dangerous off the dribble. He is the emotional leader of this BA squad and SU fans should be happy he‚Äôll be back this summer.
20 Brandon Triche
Talk about a guy that has exploded over the last few weeks thanks to his stellar play overseas. Triche was named the regular season MVP and Foreign Player of the Year of the Serie A2 Basket league in Italy after leading the league in scoring and assists at 24.5 ppg and 7.2 apg . Since then, he‚Äôs gone on to lead Orlandina Basket to three consecutive 3-0 sweeps in its first three playoff series and was named the MVP of the semifinal series after averaging 30 points and 12.7 apg. Triche and Orlandina will play in the league championship series in the coming weeks and if he can continue doing what he‚Äôs doing overseas in TBT, then Boeheim‚Äôs Army is going to have the benefit of having one of the hottest players in the tournament coming in.
4 John Gillon
Back for his third year in TBT, Gillon is of course best known for the shot heard ‚Äòround the world against Duke in his lone season with Syracuse in 2016-17, but he also impressed in his second season in TBT last year. The former SU point guard averaged 14.5 points, 3.5 assists and 1.8 rebounds per game in last year‚Äôs run to the Elite Eight, including a game-high 32 on 6-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc in a win over South Jamaica Kings. Quick and lightning fast in transition, Gillon also brings his precision back to Boeheim‚Äôs Army as they try to make another run at the $2 million prize.
27 Jordan Crawford
The aforementioned odd and exciting edition to the 2019 Boeheim‚Äôs Army roster, Crawford is the only player that will take the floor for BA this summer that has never spent a single minute in a Syracuse uniform. After spending his freshman season at Indiana, Crawford finished his collegiate career at Xavier for one season under the direction of current Louisville head coach Chris Mack. After leading the A-10 in scoring and shooting over 46% from the field, Crawford was 27th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and signed with the Atlanta Hawks. Stops in Washington, Boston and Golden State rounded out his short, journeyman stint in the NBA in 2014 before he returned to the league for the latter half of the 2017 season and much of the 2018 season with the New Orleans Pelicans.
So, you might be wondering exactly how Crawford ended up on a team meant for Syracuse alumni? Well, it appears it has a lot to do with Eric Devendorf. Both Crawford and Devendorf are from Michigan with Crawford coming from Detroit where Devendorf is now a special assistant to the head coach at the University of Detroit Mercy. It looks like that‚Äôs where the connection comes from, but however Crawford ended up on the team, it‚Äôs always nice to have a former NBA talent on your side of the basketball.
1 Hakim Warrick
One of the biggest beneficiaries of an impressive run in the 2018 TBT with Boeheim‚Äôs Army, shot eraser and poster maker Hakim Warrick will be back for BA in 2019. Impressive defense and athleticism displayed in TBT last year saw the soon-to-be 37-year-old Warrick get another chance in the NBA G League as the 9th overall pick in the 2018 G League Draft and he didn‚Äôt disappoint, contributing 12 points and nearly 6 rebounds per game this past season for the Iowa Wolves. The creator of one of Syracuse‚Äôs all-time greatest moments, Warrick has another chance to put smiles on the faces of Orange Nation this summer if he can help BA make another long run.
5 Chris McCullough
The youngest member of Boeheim‚Äôs Army and one of two brand-new additions to the BA roster for 2019, McCullough never quite got a chance to live up to his full potential while he was at Syracuse thanks to a knee injury derailing his lone season in Central New York. He went on to be the 29th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft for the Brooklyn Nets and bounced around the NBA (Washington) and the G League (Northern Arizona Suns, Wisconsin Herd, Erie Bayhawks) until he signed with the Shanxi Brave Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association in 2018. After another stint in the G League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Bronx native signed with Brujos de Guayama out of Puerto Rico in mid-May 2019. A guy that some thought left Syracuse too early (there were extenuating circumstances that made that decision make a lot of sense) now has a chance to compete once again in the Orange and White. The talent has always been there, now it‚Äôs just a matter of putting it all together for the $2 million prize.
21 Arinze Onuaku
Arinze Onuaku is one of those guys that didn‚Äôt put up flashy numbers in his collegiate career but is still beloved by nearly every Syracuse fan out there. There‚Äôs even still a prevailing thought that if Onuaku hadn‚Äôt injured his knee in the Big East Tournament then SU would have made a run to the Final Four rather than being upset in the Sweet Sixteen by eventual national finalist Butler. At this point, that‚Äôs neither here nor there and Onuaku is back for his second straight season with BA after averaging nearly 10 points and 6 rebounds per game last season. It wouldn‚Äôt be surprising if head coach Ryan Blackwell decided to start both Warrick and McCullough at the 4 and 5 to get some length and athleticism on the floor and allow Onuaku to come off the bench as a defensive stopper that has also added some nice offensive touch since his time at Syracuse. At 6-foot-9, 275 pounds, Arinze has great size on the interior and can still bang bodies with the best of them. A three-time D League all-star, Onuaku can be the perfect sixth man for this BA team or the big-bodied starting center that physically punishes his opponents.
13 Darryl Watkins
Speaking of big bodies that are outstanding defenders, look no further than Darryl Watkins. The 7-foot, 258-pounder still ranks fifth all-time in program history with 273 career blocks and an average of 2.5 swats per game. He is the definition of a defensive-minded eraser that can make an impact on that end of the floor no matter if Boeheim‚Äôs Army decides to go with the patented 2-3 zone or simply stick with man. 2019 will be Watkins‚Äô second stint with BA after competing in the 2016 TBT that saw the Syracuse alums make it to the Super 16. Watkins has never been one to put up big numbers on the offensive end, but if he still has the ability to make the instant defensive impact that he did in his collegiate years then he‚Äôll be a valuable piece for Boeheim‚Äôs Army this summer.
WHEN AND WHERE TO WATCH
Boeheim‚Äôs Army and Syracuse were selected as one of eight host teams/cities for TBT 2019 and will host the Syracuse regional at Onondaga Community College‚Äôs SRC Arena from July 26-28. All games will be broadcast on the ESPN Family of Networks.
We won‚Äôt know what BA‚Äôs path to the TBT Final looks like until the 64-team bracket is published on June 11th, but until then, you can along here on orangefizz.net and on Twitter @OrangeFizz for everything you need to know about the squad and the tournament.