Yesterday we saw the JJ Starling that Syracuse fans have been waiting for since he committed to the Orange in March. The former five-star scored over 20 points for the first time this season. More importantly, the Baldwinsville native went 3-3 from beyond the arc.
Starling had all the hype in the world around him entering this season. Why wouldn’t he. A former top prospect, coming back home after a solid freshman season in the ACC. Everyone was excepting a big leap for Starling. The backcourt with him and Judah Mintz could be the best in the ACC and one of the best in the country. But, Starling couldn’t figure out his shot for the first month of the season. The sophomore shot a whopping 13% from deep entering the Georgetown game.
A strong performance from JJ Starling elevates the Orange to the next level. Its almost guaranteed that Judah Mintz shows up in big games. Chris Bell has been pretty consistent this season, with multiple 20-point performances. With JJ not playing like the second option he was expected to be, the question around this team was, when Bell isn’t consistent, can someone else step up? But, if Starling is back to his old self and can hit shots. That question goes away. The Orange can have multiple consistent guards. Then add Chris Bell to that as the third option. If Quadir Copeland can play how he did you have another scorer. And then Chance Westry returns soon, Justin Taylor can score, and this offense starts to look dangerous.
Its too early to tell if Starling is actually back to his old self or if the Georgetown game was just a shining moment in a bad season. But, if the Notre Dame transfer is back, then SUs season changes. The ‘Cuse then have one of the best backcourts in the ACC and a legitimate chance at competing in the conference.