As the season quickly approaches, it’s time to take a look at Syracuse’s top player this season. Elijah Hughes has been on the receiving end of high praise from Jim Boeheim. Recently Boeheim went on record saying Hughes will be a top five player in the ACC this season – at worst.
Besides being the focal point of the offense with Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett, and Frank Howard gone, Hughes should benefit from a spacious offense. Unlike in year’s past where Battle and Howard were prone to pass the ball along the wing before hoisting a contested three, this team is full of quick shot takers. Buddy Boeheim, Joe Girard, and Brycen Goodine will space the floor – and if the Orange and White Game is any indication, this squad will run.
That style of play will benefit Hughes, who can gash defenses through lanes with his speed and hops. If he can’t get to the hoop, he’s a dangerous three shooter after putting down 37 percent of his triples last season.
Battle, Brissett, and Howard combined for around 33 shots per game last season, while Hughes averaged 11 attempts. While Boeheim’s attempts will increase, and the freshman will be responsible for some volume, Hughes could easily take around 17 shots per game. Throughout the season Hughes could easily average over 20 points per game – something only RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson of Duke accomplished a season ago.
The ceiling for Hughes is around 22 points per game, to go along with over five rebounds, three assists, and a block per game. Defenses won’t be able to hone in on Hughes thanks to the other elite shooters on this roster
Hughes’ floor has less to do with him, and more to do with the performance of young teammates around him. If Girard, Goodine, and Carey struggle, defenses can focus on Hughes. In this situation, his three point and field goal percentages take big hits. While he’ll still average 17 plus points, he could shoot under 35 percent from three and under 40 percent from the field. We know what Hughes and Boeheim can do, but the rest of the team is a huge question mark.