Some might argue that four outside guys is too many for Boeheim’s Army, a squad many fans look to for nostalgia and hopefully a TBT championship. But others would argue that after coming up short the past few years, it’s time to dip into the talent pool from beyond, and take over TBT. But these guys are unfamiliar to Boeheim’s Army fans.
4. Tyrese Rice
Tyrese Rice played at Boston College for all four of his collegiate seasons between 2005 and 2009. During that stretch, he won ACC All-Freshman honors, and All-ACC three times. But Rice might be oddly unfamiliar because he was doing all that while Syracuse was still in the Big East.
The bottom line is he won’t be a go-to shooter or scorer for Boeheim’s Army, but Rice will hold his own. He has eight international seasons under his belt despite taking this year off. As a pro, Rice averages 12.0 and 4.1 assists per game. His biggest contribution will be as a srappy guy diving for loose balls and moving the ball well. That role belonged to Eric Devendorf in the past, and still might. To have multiple guys willing to sacrifice their bodies is a huge advantage. But Devendorf can’t be the leading scorer and the scrappiest player.
3. Keifer Sykes
Ryan Blackwell described Keifer Sykes as a “John Gillon”. Without Gillon himself, it makes sense that GM Kevin Belbey tracked down the Wisconsin-Green Bay alum. Like Gillon, Sykes should get after it on defense and shoot the ball well if he can get open. But in the past, Boeheim’s Army has been focussed on threes. Sykes is more of a paint-touch guy than the guard he is replacing.
“He’s a Chicago kid, so you know he’s going to be tough-minded. He’s just another element. A quick guard that can make plays and get in the paint…. Just a tough kid,” Associate Head Coach Coach Ryan Blackwell said on the Inside Syracuse Basketball podcast.
2. DeAndre Kane
DeAndre Kane won three TBT championships with Overseas Elite. Luckily for Boeheim’s Army (from a personnel and competition standpoint) they’re not fielding a team this year. That meant Kane was up for grabs. He played at Marshall for three seasons before transferring to Iowa State and starring for the Cyclones. Since then, he has had a decorated professional career. Kane won an Israeli Cup title in 2017, and Israeli League championships in 2018 and 2019 as a member of Maccabi Tel Aviv. His biggest asset is a winner’s mentality.
1. DJ Kennedy
Enter the best to ever do it in TBT. DJ Kennedy brings that same winning culture coming from Overseas Elite, with four championships under his belt. He’s made the all-TBT team five times and been named MVP twice. Expect him to be the best player on the floor at all times. He can play like a guard or a forward at 6-foot-6, 215 pounds but he will best serve Boeheim’s Army from inside the arc.
Make no mistake, “best to ever do it” is not an exaggeration. Kennedy is TBT’s all-time leading scorer (436 points) and rebounder (232).
“When we lost to them in the Final Four, I said all along, ‘we need guys like that, Blackwell said.'”
The biggest concern for these non-Syracuse guys is chemistry and the ability to play the Zone effectively. The defense will take a bit of a hit, unless Boeheim’s Army wants to abandon the Zone. But Blackwell isn’t concerned.
“They know how to win. We’re here for all the same reason. We’re on the same page. Whether you play five minutes or twenty minutes. It’s not about your points. It’s not about your resumé. It’s about winning.”
Boeheim’s Army is a three-seed and kicks off their 2021 run on July 24th against Forces of Seoul.