As we countdown to tipoff in November, we’re going to be tackling the biggest burning questions on the 2019-20 Syracuse basketball team. Today’s burning question: Who will lead the team in scoring?
Syracuse loses four of its five starters from the 2018-19 team, including leading scorer Tyus Battle (17.2 ppg). Only two of the top six scorers from last year (Elijah Hughes, Buddy Boeheim) are back.
THE FAVORITE: Elijah Hughes (13.7 ppg). Hughes is the obvious choice here because he finished second on the team in scoring last season, and is the team’s top returning scorer. If Italy was any indication, Hughes will definitely be the go-to guy. He led all Syracuse players at 14.5 points per game during its exhibition swing.
THE NEWCOMER: Quincy Guerrier has all the makings of a classic Syracuse wing. He’s long and lean at 6’7″, 210 pounds, and has the classic jump-out-of-the-gym athleticism that we’ve seen from players like Hakim Warrick and Wes Johnson. Guerrier led the Orange in rebounding during its Italy exhibition at Guerrier at 9.3 rebounds per game and he also showed the ability to score from all three levels, averaging 11.8 points. He’ll definitely be a featured part of the Syracuse offense, with plenty of chances to show he’s the alpha.
THE SHARPSHOOTER: Buddy Boeheim’s 6.8 ppg in his freshman year is a bit deceptive. His Syracuse career got to a rocky start, with Boeheim shooting just 3-34 from downtown in his first five games. Compare that stretch with the final eight games of ACC play, where Boeheim was a torrid 18 for 45 (40 percent) from beyond the arc, which raised his 3-point percentage to 35.3 for the season. Syracuse’s offense should be more balanced this season, which should mean more open looks from Boeheim. I could easily see Boeheim having several 20-point games this year.
THE BALLHANDLER: Jalen Carey was largely out of the rotation by the end of the season, mostly because of his leaky ball handling and ineffective outside shooting. But Carey also showed flashes of his scoring potential early in the year, starting the first four games of the season while Frank Howard nursed an ankle injury. Carey scored 26 points in a loss to UConn in the 2K Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden, and followed that up with 14 points in a loss to Oregon. Carey averaged 9.3 points per game on the exhibition tour, showing an improving outside touch and dribble.
THE DARKHORSES: There are three other players that have the potential to lead Syracuse in scoring on any given night. Junior Marek Dolezaj will likely be the team’s sixth man because of his versatility to play center and forward. The Slovakian only averaged 4.1 ppg, but had three games over double figures and also shot 37.9 percent from downtown. Two other freshman, guards Joe Girard and Brycen Goodine, come in with scoring pedigrees. Goodine averaged 21.5 ppg his senior year of high school and 8.5 ppg on the Italy trip. Meanwhile, Girard finished his high school career as New York State’s all-time leading scorer with 4,763 points and he averaged 10.0 ppg in Italy. It remains to be seen how they’ll fit into the rotation, but the potential is there for the two of them to have big scoring nights from time to time.