We got a taste of the 2021-22 SU basketball team with last week’s exhibition contests’. Now we look ahead to the regular season which starts in just a couple days. Let’s continue our preview series taking a look at Syracuse’s position groups ahead of Tuesday night’s contest against Lafayette. We’ve already talked guards and forwards so that leaves us with the bigs for today!
John Bol Ajak
The redshirt-sophomore logged 51 minutes last season in ten different contests’. He didn’t make much of an impact but could be in line for some more time off the bench. The South Sudan native is 6’10, 216 pounds and could be used in a pinch if Jesse Edwards and/or Frank Anselem get into foul trouble. There have been rumblings that Ajak was playing his best ball near the end of preseason training but then he was sidelined with an injury. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds from that.
The sophomore had an interesting freshman campaign to say the least. Anselem logged time in just four games due to complications with COVID-19 and other things. The Nigerian played a ton against Pace and Le Moyne perhaps to continue his development and give Coach Boeheim an idea of what he has behind Edwards. The Prolific Prep product was up and down and clearly has some developing still to do, but he showed signs of promise. Similar to Ajak, Anselem is 6’10, 215 so he has that size and length to play a factor in the paint as a scorer, rim protector, and rebounder.
Ajak and Anselem figure to play auxiliary pieces to Edwards and potentially Bourama Sidibe. For now, Edwards is the guy. The Netherlands native looked really good at times last season, especially down the stretch. Against North Carolina in March, the sophomore scored six points, reeled in eight rebounds, and snared four steals. That was against a Tar Heels team that had plenty of length with Armando Bacot and Day’Ron Sharpe. The big thing for Edwards this season is consistency, he could mean the difference between an average season and a great season for SU.
Sidibe returns to the Hill for his graduate year. Things haven’t gotten off to the best start though. The Mali native missed both exhibitions games with an injury. Hopefully he can get over that hump and avoid the bug during the season. The St. Benedicts Prep offers key depth and experience for this team at the 4 and 5. Remember he played in just two games in the 2020-2021 season but ended the 2019-2020 campaign with double-doubles in three of his final five outings. Is that the Sidibe that emerges this year? Or will it be another year and career hampered with injuries?