In just a few days’ time, Syracuse men’s hoops’ 2022-23 season will probably be over, barring an eleventh-hour NIT pity bid. If SU plays a postseason game anytime soon or even wins multiple games in this year’s ACC Tournament, it’ll likely have one dynamic freshman to thank. First-year guard Judah Mintz was as good as advertised this season en route to 16.2 points per game across 31 starts – but that mark still wasn’t good enough to net him ACC Rookie of the Year honors.
Filipowski’s extraordinary freshman campaign made him an unsurprising candidate for the award and a shoo-in for other pundits. The big man’s play this year against SU (14 points, 11 rebounds inside the Dome on February 18th) only rubbed salt in the wound for Orange fans who still recall Filipowski’s visit to The Hill during his recruiting cycle. Even still, Filipowski didn’t run away with the award wire-to-wire. Syracuse’s star guard kept up an honest case for the hardware all year long.
Mintz and Filipowski play opposite positions, so comparing the two is a difficult exercise. Mintz naturally has more assists, while Filipowski hauls down rebounds at nearly five times the rate Mintz does. It’s just a product of positioning. However, Mintz’s case for the award likely rests in his contributions relative to the rest of his team.
Filipowski averaged 15 points and nine rebounds for a 23-win Duke team that fell out of and then rejoined the Top 25 late in the year. Head coach Jon Scheyer’s unit fed off the freshman’s presence, who anchored the paint while other talented Blue Devil shooters like Jeremy Roach teed off. Filipowski made his shots, proved to be formidable at the boards, and saved his best for the games that mattered, like a 22-point explosion against North Carolina on March 4th.
On the other side of the coin, Mintz lived up to the hype of his recruitment in a way that neither Kadary Richmond nor Benny Williams have in recent Syracuse history and became a primary scoring force on a team needing production following Buddy Boeheim’s departure. Mintz also pushed fellow backcourt mate Joe Girard to shooting guard (where the latter put up career-highs in scoring) and racked up the most assists per game of any SU player since Frank Howard in 2017-18. The Maryland product even tallied up a fair number of honors throughout the season. Where would Syracuse be without Mintz? Certainly not at 17-14, and probably staring its second consecutive losing season in the face.
While it’s arguable that Mintz plays around a lesser collection of overall talent than Duke’s gleaming rotation, both he and Filipowski have their debatable points for ACC Rookie of the Year. Though Mintz didn’t win the latest Atlantic Coast accolade, he may be gunning for something even loftier next season – if he returns.