Roster Analysis — 2020-21 Syracuse basketball preview

Dolezaj Georgetown
Syracuse Orange forward Marek Dolezaj defends an inbound pass. Mandatory Credit: Saugat Sen, The Juice Online.

Syracuse returns four of five starters from the 2019-20 team, but the bench will look very different. Here is a look at every player on the SU roster:

Marek Dolezaj – senior forward, 6’10”, 201 pounds
A three-year contributor, Dolezaj enters his senior season after a promotion to the starting lineup for his junior year. While he has never had a giant imprint on the stat sheet, the senior averaged 10.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game in 2019-2020. A versatile player who will still likely play some at center, Dolezaj must reduce his fouls after finishing second in both personal fouls and disqualifications on the team last season. A smart, skilled player who led the team in assists in ACC games last year, the senior from Slovakia has an outside chance to finish his final season with over 400 points, 200 rebounds, 100 assists, and 50 steals.
KEY NUMBER: 8.25 FGA/40. By getting up over eight shots per 40 minutes as a junior, Dolezaj averaged three more shots over the previous season. If he makes a similar jump in offensive aggression this season, Dolezaj could average 14 points per game and be a big enough threat to generate additional open looks for the perimeter shooters, boosting the offense as a whole.

Bourama Sidibe – senior center, 6’10”, 218 pounds
Sidibe was healthy for the first full season at SU and posted solid numbers as a result. In 24 minutes per game, Sidibe averaged 6.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks, the latter two numbers leading the Orange. The problem for Sidibe was the two other categories he led the team in – personal fouls (131) and disqualifications (10). While he came on late to close the season with six straight double-digit rebounding games, including three double-doubles, Sidibe still committed 25 fouls in those four games, limiting him to under 28 minutes in four of those contests.
KEY NUMBER: 71.4 percent. In the last five games of the season, Sidibe showed improved accuracy from the foul line, making 15-of-21 attempts. While not a particularly skilled offensive player, the Orange will take anything Sidibe can give them.

Buddy Boeheim – junior guard, 6’6”, 195 pounds
As a first-time starter, Boeheim proved to be a secondary scorer capable of blistering hot streaks and long stretches of zero production. Boeheim led the team in three-pointers (97) and three-point percentage (37.0), but also could disappear at times, including a scoreless effort in 33 minutes of a three-point loss at Florida State. While Boeheim absolutely torched non-conference foes by shooting 41 percent from long range, he was a much more pedestrian 34.6 from beyond the arc in ACC play. Boeheim also struggled to contribute outside the scoring column against ACC foes, averaging under two rebounds and two assists per game in conference action.
KEY NUMBER: 15-of-60. Boeheim seemed to run out of gas in his first season of heavy minutes, making just 25 percent of his three-point shots in the final nine games. Prior to that closing stretch, he shot 40.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Alan Griffin – junior forward, 6’6”, 195 pounds
Griffin transfers into the Syracuse program from Illinois, where he provided scoring punch off the bench. In 18 minutes per game as a sophomore, Griffin rang up 8.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per outing and shot 41.6 percent from three-point range and 86.1 percent from the free throw line. In 28 contests last season, he posted double figures in points ten times, making at least three triples in seven of those efforts. Griffin just missed double-doubles in back-to-back games last season, finishing with 17 points and nine rebounds against Michigan State and following that with 16 points and 12 boards in under 20 minutes against Purdue.
KEY NUMBER: 8.95 threes attempted and 3.96 offensive rebounds/40 minutes. Should Griffin slot into Elijah Hughes’ old role, he could threaten the 100-triple mark on the season while helping to ease the rebounding burden on Dolezaj and Sidibe.

Robert Braswell – redshirt sophomore forward, 6’7”, 206 pounds
Braswell’s season was mostly a loss, as he was forced to redshirt due to leg pain after just 48 minutes of play across seven games before New Year’s. A two-time high school high jumping state champion in South Carolina, Braswell is a remarkable athlete who will hopefully get a chance to show more of what he can do this season now that he has returned to health.
KEY NUMBER: 4-of-6 three-pointers. In last season’s very limited play, Braswell displayed a hint of his shooting ability. In fact, Braswell’s 57.1 percent field goal percentage is the lowest of his three career shooting marks in his very limited play.

Jesse Edwards – sophomore center, 6’11”, 215 pounds
Edwards received a modest amount of playing time as a true freshman and showed some offensive ability in those limited minutes. The big man showed some soft touch while working in the paint, twice scoring seven points and setting a season-high with ten points in 14 minutes of action against Bucknell. In addition to his gaudy 79.2 percent field goal shooting, Edwards also blocked ten shots in his 146 minutes of action.
KEY NUMBER: 63.2 percent free throw shooting. While operating a lot of the time in close proximity to the basket, Edwards also showed a nice touch from 15 feet away from the rim.

Joe Girard III – sophomore guard, 6’1”, 181 pounds
Girard earned significant minutes in the opening game and the starting role by the third game of the season. He held on to the spot, dominating minutes despite several other contenders on the roster. An excellent perimeter shooter, Girard posted the third-highest single-season free throw mark in SU history at 89.4 percent. He also made the fourth-most three-pointers as a freshman at Syracuse, knocking down 70 triples and he made at least four threes in seven different games. Girard also used a combination of instincts and smarts on defense, leading the team with 47 steals.
KEY NUMBER: 1.39-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. In conference action, Girard took some lumps as a freshman, turning the ball over far too often. Girard showed a greater comfort level in non-conference play, carding a 2.73-to-1 ratio overall and having three games of six or more assists with just one turnover against small schools.

Quincy Guerrier – sophomore forward, 6’7”, 220 pounds
While it was unknown outside the program last season, Guerrier struggled through an injury that required offseason surgery, but he is expected to be ready for the 2020-2021 season. Guerrier still appeared in every game off the bench as a freshman, proving to be a jolt of energy. In just over 20 minutes per outing, Guerrier finished third on the squad in rebounding with 5.3 boards per contest. After struggling early in the season with his three-point shot, Guerrier mothballed the bombs and shot just over 56 percent from the field after New Year’s Day.
KEY NUMBER: 33-of-43 free throws. For a six-week span from early January to mid-February, Guerrier drained 76.7 percent of his foul shots. That hints at a solid, repeatable stroke that has to be unlocked to help Guerrier develop into a more well-rounded offensive threat.

John Bol Ajak – redshirt freshman center, 6’10”, 215 pounds
Ajak redshirted last season as a freshman, coming to Syracuse as more of a defensive player than offensive threat. With a full roster, Ajak will have to fight for minutes in practice, not just in games.
KEY NUMBER: 4. With the addition of freshman Frank Anselem, there are four other players on the roster in the mix for minutes at center, including Dolezaj. It will be an uphill battle for Ajak to contribute.

Frank Anselem – freshman center, 6’10”, 210 pounds
A native of Lagos, Nigeria, Anselem played high school basketball in Georgia before transferring to Prolific Prep in California. Anselem was originally a member and top-100 recruit in the Class of 2021, but re-classified to the Class of 2020 during the spring and was ranked the 23rd-best center in the class by 247sports.com.
KEY NUMBER: 146. Players named neither Marek Dolezaj nor Bourama Sidibe played 146 minutes at center for the Orange last season. If Anselem has aspirations of getting some of those minutes, he will have to beat out Jesse Edwards.

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Woody Newton – freshman forward, 6’8”, 200 pounds
A Maryland native, Newton spent his last two years of high school at Mt. Zion Prep. Newton comes to Syracuse as a top-30 power forward in his class and top-150 player overall.
KEY NUMBER: 4. Just as with Ajak, Newton in fifth in line for minutes at his position. This will likely be a redshirt year for Newton, either by choice or if the NCAA decides to copy the rule implemented for football where this season is a “free” one on students’ eligibility calendars.

Kadary Richmond – freshman guard, 6’5”, 180 pounds
A Brooklyn native, Richmond comes to the Orange from Brewster Academy, where former SU star C.J. Fair prepped. Richmond was named to the NEPSAC First Team while helping Brewster to the National Prep Championship title game. In the run-up to the season, Richmond has been the freshman mentioned most frequently as an instant contributor.
KEY NUMBER: 89.9 percent. In the final 23 games of last season, Boeheim, Girard, and Elijah Hughes played just under 90 percent of all possible minutes at the guard and small forward spots, Richmond’s potential positions (and that number is lowered by Boeheim missing 26 possible minutes against Pitt and Hughes 57 minutes across the N.C. State and Miami games due to injury). If Griffin replaces Hughes, as expected, there will be scant minutes available for Richmond to play.

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About Jim Stechschulte 687 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.