2019-20 Syracuse basketball report card

Bourama Sidibe
Dec 28, 2019: Syracuse Orange center Bourama Sidibe against the Niagara Purple Eagles. Mandatory Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Syracuse basketball’s season a week ago. Pencils are down, and the grades are in. Let’s see how the team did:

Elijah Hughes: Hughes was the ACC’s leading scorer at 19.0 points per game, and did a little bit of everything for Syracuse, adding 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals. He went from not making a single Preseason All-ACC team to being named to the postseason First Team. Now, SU can only hope he returns for his final season of eligibility. Grade: A

Marek Dolezaj: Dolzaj set career highs across the board, with 10.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists. But Dolezaj still needs to give far more consistent offensive efforts. There were games when he came out aggressive, such as going for 22 points against Duke, or 20 against Georgia Tech. But in others, he was a non-factor, scoring six points or less in six ACC games. He also saw his 3-point percentage drop from 37.9 in his sophomore year to just 14.3 this year. Grade: B

Buddy Boeheim: Boeheim emerged as one of the ACC’s top outside shooters this season, hitting 37 percent of his shots from beyond the arc, and more than doubling his scoring average from his first season (6.8 ppg to 15.3 ppg). He also diversified his offensive repertoire, showing an ability to be more than just a standstill shooter. But basketball is a two-way sport, and Boeheim’s struggles at the top of the zone are well chronicled. Syracuse needs more than the 1.9 rpg and 1.1 spg at the top of the zone, especially because he averaged 35.6 minutes. By comparison, in similar minutes in his junior year, Trevor Cooney averaged 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 37.3 minutes per game. Grade: B

Joseph Girard III: The pros to Girard’s season are obvious. Though not considered an elite prospect in his recruitment, he nevertheless earned the starting point guard job, and finished with averages of 12.4 points, 3.0 steals, and 3.5 assists per game. The cons to his season are obvious as well. Girard shot just 34.8 percent from the field, wasn’t a great facilitator on offense, was part of SU’s porous outside defense, and perplexed fans with his shot selection. All those things should improve as he progresses through his college career. Grade: B-

Bourama Sidibe: Had it not been for the final month of the season, Sidibe would’ve been a full letter grade lower. Prior to the final six games of the season, he only double figure rebounds three times (against weaker opponents Oakland, Niagara and Colgate), and had only reached double figures in scoring in ACC play once (Notre Dame). He also only had one ACC game (Boston College) where he didn’t have four or more fouls. Then came the final six games of the season where Sidibe was in double figure rebounds in all six matches, and scored in double digits three times, including a season high 17 points in SU’s final home game against North Carolina. For good measure, in one of those six games, he only had three fouls (Boston College, again). If Sidibe can generate that kind of production consistently in his final campaign, that could be a game-changer for the Orange. Grade: C+

» Related: An early look to the 2020-21 Syracuse basketball team

Quincy Guerrier: How much did Guerrier grow in his first season at Syracuse? Consider in the opener against Virginia, Guerrier was 0-4 from the field (0-3 from downtown) and scored zero points to go with zero rebounds. Flash forward to SU’s finale against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament where he scored seven points on 3-6 shooting and collected nine rebounds in 19 minutes. Guerrier finished with averages of 6.9 points and 5.3 rebounds, and if Hughes leaves and Guerrier joins the starting lineup, I could easily see him averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds as a sophomore. Grade: C

Howard Washington: When Washington was given an opportunity, he made the most of it. He played a season-high 17 minutes at Georgia Tech, and dishes out eight assists. In 13 minutes against Boston College, he dropped three dimes. But those moments were few and far between, and though he appeared in 20 games this year, he only averaged 1.2 ppg and 1.2 apg in 7.4 mpg. It would’ve been nice to see him carve out a consistent 10 minutes per game, but I hope he finds a better opportunity in the transfer portal. Grade: C-

Brycen Goodine: The highlight of Goodine’s season came on Feb. 8 in a 75-73 win over Wake Forest at the Carrier Dome. Goodine rebounded a Hughes missed 3-pointer and hit the go-ahead layup with 1.5 seconds left for the game winner. But Goodine also saw the writing on the wall, and the minutes simply were not going to be there for him going forward, and he’s now headed to Providence after putting his name into the transfer portal. He appeared in only 23 games this season and was used sparingly in those games. He finished with averages of 8.7 minutes, 1.9 points and 1.0 rebounds, and I only wish he had the opportunity to showcase his abilities more. Out of the three transfers, I think Goodine’s will have the longest lasting impact. Grade: D

Jessie Edwards: For a big man, Edwards flashed potential of an impressive offensive arsenal in the 21 games he appeared in. In just 6.9 minutes per game, he averaged 2.4 points and 1.7 rebounds. If he can add mass to his 215 point frame and learn better defensive positioning, he can be a consistent contributor as the primary backup center next year. Grade: D

Jalen Carey: Carey was the team’s starting point guard heading into the season, but quickly lost his spot in the rotation with his erratic play, and then his season due to a hand injury. Had he stayed healthy, I think he would’ve found a niche as a change of pace guard who would be a better defensive option at the top of the zone with his athletic frame and defensive instincts. The long-term issue with Carey would’ve been his shooting and ball handle, neither of which may have ever rise to a starter at a high-major level. When Carey was deciding between schools, he narrowed it to UConn and SU. Could he find a role with the Huskies now that his name is in the transfer portal? Grade: INC

Robert Braswell: Braswell is still a transfer candidate following a season where he was shut down in January with a leg injury. In the seven games he appeared in, Braswell showed he will be an outside threat when he gets more consistent playing time (66.7 percent from 3) and could help with SU’s interior rebounding (1.7 points 1.1 rebounds in 6.9 minutes per game). If Hughes leaves, Braswell would be a candidate to absorb some of his minutes. Grade: INC

John Bol Ajak: Ajak is still likely another season away from contributing. With Edwards, Sidibe and Dolezaj all ahead of him in the depth chart for next year, Ajak’s job as a redshirt freshman will continue to be pushing his teammates in practice while preparing himself to be a contributor at the high-major level. That means his grade next year will probably remain the same. Grade: INC

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]sujuiceonline.com.