Roster analysis — 2019 Syracuse Basketball preview

Syracuse coaches
Syracuse coaches look on during play. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

There is plenty of turnover from the 2018-19 Syracuse basketball team to this year, including the loss of four starters. With that in mind, here is a look at the 2019-20 roster:

The lone returning starter, redshirt junior Elijah Hughes (6’6”, 215 pounds) will be the lead offensive threat for the Orange this season. In his first season for SU after sitting out following his transfer from East Carolina, the small forward started every game and led the team in three-point field goals made with 87 and three-point percentage at 36.9 percent. Hughes’ 13.7 points per game average was second on the team and he saved his best for last, tying a season high with six three-pointers while pouring in a personal-best 25 points in the NCAA Tournament loss to Baylor. The stiffest tests for Hughes this season will be how he handles being the focus of opposing defenses on a nightly basis and developing as a playmaker, an additional role the coaching staff has asked of him.

Freshman Quincy Guerrier (6’7”, 220 pounds), a new addition to the Orange roster, will start at the other forward position. The native of Montreal is slotted to start at the other forward spot after doing so during the summer trip to Italy. Guerrier provided an instant impact on that tour, posting a pair of double-doubles and averaging 11.8 points and 9.3 rebounds over the four games on the trip. Guerrier averaged 24.7 points and 6.2 rebounds in his final season at Thetford Academy.

Marek Dolezaj (6’10”, 185 pounds), the junior from Slovakia, returns to his reserve forward role. Dolezaj averaged just shy of 22 minutes per game last season and posted modest averages of 4.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per outing. While his imprint on the scoresheet is not abundant, Dolezaj is a key contributor through his understanding of the game and ability to do a little bit of everything. Dolezaj led the team in assist-to-turnover ratio and steals last campaign while spending a significant amount of time filling in at center despite his lack of bulk.

Sophomore Robert Braswell (6’7”, 200 pounds) played only 55 minutes in a dozen games as a freshman, but showed hints of a variety of skills in that time. A tantalizing athlete with tremendous leaping ability, Braswell showed a repeatable shooting stroke in limited time, making 9-of-12 free throws. He also provided a defensive spark against North Carolina State, coming up with three steals in just seven minutes of action, triggering an 11-0 Orange run in the first half of that game. In the team’s two exhibition contests this year, Braswell showed a pretty perimeter shot, hitting three triples as he poured in 17 points against Daemen. If he can consistently shoot like that, Braswell may force his way into more action this season.

» Related: 2018-19 Syracuse basketball review and 2019-20 first look

Against lesser competition in Italy, center Bourama Sidibe (6’10”, 200 pounds) showed what he can do when healthy enough to play. The junior averaged 8.5 points and a dozen rebounds on that tour, giving the team some hope of solid play at center. Sidibe, who played under 300 minutes last season, showed some flashes as a freshman, but now has a clear path to extended playing time. SU won’t ask for too much from him, just solid defense and rebounding on the back line of the 2-3 zone.

Jesse Edwards (6’11”, 215 pounds) is one of a pair of freshmen centers added to the Orange this season. The Amsterdam native played half a season at IMG Academy in Florida, driving enough interest for SU to offer him a scholarship. Slotted into the reserve center role, Edwards got limited play on the Italian trip and in the two exhibition games. Edwards offers a different skillset than many traditional Syracuse centers, as he has more of a face-up offensive game.

John Bol Ajak (6’11”, 215 pounds) is the other freshman center on the roster. A native of the Sudan, Ajak played as a senior at Westtown School outside of Philadelphia. Ajak is a slender, long-armed center who provides more of a defensive presence than an offensive threat. Due to visa issues, Ajak was not able to join the Orange on their summer trip to Italy and a redshirt is a possibility for him this season.

Now promoted to the starting lineup, Buddy Boeheim (6’6”, 195 pounds) provided perimeter punch at the shooting guard spot as a freshman last season. The sophomore averaged 6.8 points per game last year due in large part to connecting on 47 threes at a 35.3 percent clip. After a choppy start during the first months of the season, Boeheim turned it on, hitting 41.1 percent from long range from mid-January through the end of the season. Boeheim focused on improving his conditioning and athleticism this summer and entered the season looking noticeably different on the floor.

Sophomore Jalen Carey (6’3”, 186 pounds) is projected to be the other starter in the updated Orange backcourt. A blur with the ball, Carey’s speed is his greatest attribute. Carey, however, struggled with both his shooting and ball security in his first season, shooting under 40 percent from the field, including just 4-of-23 on three-pointers, and committing 41 turnovers in just over 300 minutes of action. Early in the season, Carey showed what he can do attacking the basket, rolling up 40 points in two games in the 2K Classic, but also revealed inexperience at running a team, committing eight turnovers while handing out just a single assist in those games. The Syracuse staff will ask for a lot more during his second season.

Brycen Goodine (6’3”, 183 pounds) is one of two new faces in the backcourt. Goodine comes to Syracuse from St. Andrew’s School in Rhode Island, where he won tournament most valuable player honors while leading the team to the NEPSAC Class AA title. The guard also was named the NEPSAC Class AA Player of the Year after posting averages of 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. Goodine was a top-100 recruit nationally and committed to SU prior to the 2017-2018 season.

Guard Joe Girard III (6’1”, 181 pounds) comes to the Orange as the top high school scorer in New York state history. Girard broke the state scoring record as a junior at Glens Falls, then spent his senior year putting the mark out of reach, finishing his career with 4,763 points. New York’s Mr. Basketball for 2018-19, Girard scored 34 points in all but one of 30 games while leading Glens Falls to the Class B state championship. He posted a personal-best 69 points in a single game, setting a Section II record. Girard was also a member of the two-time state champion football team in high school, as well.

Junior Howard Washington (6’3”, 175 pounds) returns to health after a pair of seasons mostly lost to medical issues. Washington played in 18 games as a freshman before suffering a season-ending knee injury, then had his sophomore season derailed by a stroke and opted for a medical redshirt after appearing in three games. His greatest contribution came as a freshman against Florida State, scoring nine points less than two weeks before his season was ended by injury. Washington has shown a steady hand when on the floor, looking to run the team with efficiency, not flash.

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Jim Stechschulte
About Jim Stechschulte 576 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.