In the first of a three-part series, Jeff Irvine breaks down Syracuse’s offseason needs on a player-by-player basis. This week, he takes a look at Syracuse’s wings.
Over the next four months, Syracuse’s returners from last year’s Final Four run will hit the weight room, mix it up in summer leagues, and spend countless hours alone in the gym shooting. It is the same ritual every year, and Syracuse has seen some remarkable transformations – and some not so much.
How can an Orange player make sure he’s ready come Midnight Madness? Fortunately, I’ve put together a list of historical role models they can look to for advice and some examples they would be wise to avoid.
We all know Fair has the tools to be a star. He just needs to step into the role of team leader and go-to scorer.
Player to emulate: Demetris Nichols, summer of ’06. Nichols was overshadowed during the 05-06 campaign by Gerry “Overrated” McNamara, but he still managed to finish the season second in scoring with 13.3 ppg. Over the offseason, he developed into a quiet leader and raised his points per game to 18.9 in his senior season, scoring in double figures in 32 out of 35 games. This is the type of offensive improvement that Syracuse will need from Fair if the team expects to compete at a high level.
Example to avoid: Kris Joseph, summer of ’11. Like Fair, Joseph led the team in scoring his junior season and was expected to become the “go-to” scorer his senior year. Instead, Joseph’s scoring average declined from 14.3 ppg to 13.4 ppg. Some of this can be attributed to the emergence of other players, such as Dion Waiters, but Joseph’s offensive rating remained basically unchanged and his true shooting percentage declined. Syracuse is going to need Fair to provide more offense next year, not less.
Grant eventually bumped his recruiting ranking up to #46 in the RSCI, but he came to Syracuse overshadowed by his highly ranked classmate, DaJuan Coleman. Although few predicted he would see playing time as a freshman, Grant stepped in admirably for the suspended James Southerland and displayed flashes of brilliance that have many Orange fans believing he could be the most talented player (if not most skilled) on the roster next year.
Player to emulate: Hakim Warrick, summer of ’02. Warrick was even further off the recruiting radar than Grant when he came to Syracuse in 2001, but he displayed a similar athleticism and potential from the moment he stepped on the court. Warrick took the (tumultuous) offseason after his freshman year to develop an offensive move and get stronger. The next year, he played 32 mpg and averaged 14.8 ppg and 8.5 rpg on the National Championship team.
Example to avoid: Terrance Roberts, summer of ’04. Don’t get me wrong – Roberts improved quite a bit from his freshman to sophomore years. But I think Grant can do better. Roberts came in as a freshman ranked nearly the same as Grant (#42 vs #41 in the RSCI), and, just like Grant, it was immediately clear that he had the athleticism and natural talent to do great things at Syracuse. He began his sophomore year as an important forward reserve playing behind an established star, Warrick. Depending on whether or not Boeheim decides to start Coleman, Grant could see himself in a similar position with Fair as the established star. I would certainly like to see Grant best Roberts’ sophomore line of 7.2 ppg and 3.9 rpg in 18.5 mpg.
Player to emulate: Jerami Grant, summer of ’12. Roberson is talented, but he’s joining a very crowded SU frontcourt. Like Grant last season, Roberson will have to utilize every opportunity he’s given – and a few (un)lucky breaks – to earn playing time.
Player to emulate: Otis Hill, summer of ’92. Although Hill and Johnson play different positions, Johnson could take a lesson from the former SU center. Hill redshirted his freshman season rather than ride the bench behind veterans. There is a good chance Johnson will do the same. Hill went on to start 105 games in his career and scored 1,416 points.