It seems that every offseason Orange fans are making predictions as to which basketball player will make a huge jump. Last year, just about everyone and their mother thought Joe Girard III had the potential to come in this past season and light it up. He didn’t. Quincy Guerrier really ended up being that guy for Syracuse. After his freshman season in which he didn’t start a single game, scored less than 7 PPG, and shot a dismal 12.5% from distance, that Candyman came into the 2020-21 season looking like a whole new player. Guerrier started every game this past year, averaging 13.7 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and shooting 31.1 3P%, effectively adding a three-ball to his arsenal. The Canadian was a huge reason the Orange went as far as they did, but without him next season, fans will once again look for someone to fill the hole. Who will it be in the 2021-22 campaign?
There a couple options to pick from:
1. Buddy Boeheim
Buddy lit it up in March last season. He was undoubtedly unstoppable until Syracuse ran into the buzzsaw that was Houston. You could make the argument that the coach’s son was that guy this past season, not Guerrier, but it should be noted that there were points last year in which he was flat-out awful. #35 played 10 games in which he shot less than 30% from three, including three games that he didn’t make a single shot from behind the arc. He was ice cold at times, and due to that, you can’t bestow a title like most improved to him. However, he’s a prime candidate for the upcoming season. We’ve seen guys take monumental leaps their senior year plenty before. That kind of development from Buddy would be huge for this team. If he had the ability to score 20 points a game and shoot the three with ease, Syracuse would be in a great spot, especially since they recently lost last year’s spark plug to the Oregon Ducks.
2. Joe Girard III
Many fans have certainly given up on Joe Girard III. His freshman season seemed promising. His 12.6 PPG helped him draw Gmac comparisons, even though they were never warranted. Girard still has a lot to prove, especially now since a lot of the pressure is off him. Fans don’t exactly expect him to light up the Carrier Dome nowadays, but maybe with fans returning to the building his skills will follow suit. Last year, his numbers were inexcusably bad. Less than 10 PPG, 3.5 APG, 33.3 3P%. Not what you want from the guy who will definitely be starting at the one all year long. Don’t put all your faith in him, but also don’t be surprised if he starts to turn some heads.
3. Benny Williams
This one is kind of cheating. Benny Williams is the prospect who will have the weight of the world on his shoulders once he touches down in the salt city. Ranked 30th in the nation by ESPN, a high 4-star in the eyes of 247 recruiting, yadda yadda yadda, you get it. If he can make an immediate impact for Syracuse kind of pick up right where Guerrier left off, the Orange would be in business. But there’s no way he’s doing that if he doesn’t make a huge jump. Playing in the ACC isn’t like playing in high school. He’ll find that out pretty early, but if he can make that jump seamlessly and be a force on the court from day 1, things will be just fine on the hill.