With the college basketball season just a couple of weeks away, we’ve reached another of those offseason markers that indicate the approach of the new season. ACC Tipoff, which is just media day with a fancy title, is October 25 for the conference’s men’s squads.
Each team brings its head coach and a collection of players to the event. Most teams bring two of their stars, but Syracuse is one of just four teams to bring three players. Judah Mintz and JJ Starling will join new head coach Adrian Autry, as will Benny Williams.
Mintz and Starling seem like obvious choices. Mintz is the undisputed best player on the team, coming off a freshman season where he scored over 15 points per game and the offense ran through him. You can’t make a short list for ACC Player of the Year without including Mintz.
Starling, meanwhile, is the crown jewel of Syracuse’s transfer class. The former five star recruit from Baldwinsville scored 11 points per game for a Notre Dame team that struggled last year. When Starling put his name in the portal, Autry was on him in a flash and the two sides came to an agreement quickly.
The fact that Williams will also be there is newsworthy. Autry didn’t need to take a third player, most teams will only have two. It shows where Autry believes Williams fits within the dynamic of his team.
Williams averaged just seven points and four rebounds per game last year. His talent has always been scintillating, but the consistent performances haven’t been there. This year’s Syracuse team is relying on Williams to reach the potential that the former borderline five star has in order for the team to reach the maximum heights it can.
The fact that Autry is bringing Williams to ACC Tipoff obviously doesn’t guarantee that the forward’s “next step” has happened, but it does show that the new head coach has faith in Williams. He expects the junior to be a leader. After all, he’s the elder statesman now. It’s hard to be a leader, though, when you’re struggling on the court.
Maybe, Autry’s seen enough in practice to believe Williams has finally become the best version of himself. It’s certainly a good sign for Orange fans. The talent has always been undeniable. If Williams can finally put it together, the ceiling for this season becomes exponentially higher.