It’s the end of 2020, and with that in mind, here’s Syracuse basketball’s first semester report cards:
Marek Dolezaj: A. Dolezaj has once again played out of position, spending the majority of his 34.0 minutes per game at the center position with Bourama Sidibe out and a slew of underclassmen centers not ready yet for significant minutes. Syracuse has needed his playmaking (a team-best 4.3 apg) more than ever this season, and he’s also averaging a career highs in points (12.6), blocks (1.1), steals (1.4) and free throw percentage (82.8%). Again, he needs to be more aggressive with looking for his shot, but he’s done nearly everything else SU has asked of him.
Quincy Guerrier: A. What a leap Guerrier has made in his sophomore season. He leads the team in scoring (18.0 ppg) and rebounding (10.0), and has already logged four double-doubles through seven games. After shooting 12.5 percent from downtown as a freshman, he’s up to 43.8 percent, and he’s been in double digit scoring every game. Best part is, Guerrier has done it with few plays called specifically for him. Don’t be surprised if the NBA comes calling for him at the end of the year.
Alan Griffin: B+. Griffin was recruited as Elijah Hughes’ replacement, and for the most part he’s lived up to the billing. He’s second on the team at 16.6 ppg, and he’s shown his high-motor ability, hauling in 7.6 rpg despite being just 6 foot 5. His shot selection can be frustrating at times, he’s leading the team in turnovers (22) and he’s still very much a work in progress in learning the zone, plus, there was that 0-for egg he had against Northeastern. But it’s hard to argue with the overall results so far.
Joseph Girard: C. Girard has been either very good or very bad through his first seven games. Starting with the good: In three games, he’s scoring 18 or more points, while hitting five or more 3-pointers. The bad: He’s a combined 7 for 39 in his other four. That’s equated to 31.6 percent shooting from the field that also led to a conspicuous second-half benching in SU’s overtime win against Buffalo. Still, he’s shooting 32.7 percent from downtown and has a solid 3.4 reb 3.9 ast and 1.9 stl averages.
Buddy Boeheim: C-. Boeheim had to miss three games due to COVID-19 contact tracing protocol and clearly lost his rhythm. He’s shooting just 25.9 percent from downtown, and for the amount of minutes he plays (34.5), contributes little else: 1.5 rebs, 2.8 ast and 1.8 stls are not statistics you want from someone logging huge minutes at the top of the zone.
Kadary Richmond: A-. Despite playing the sixth most minutes (26.0 mpg), Richmond leads the Orange in steals at 2.6 per game and is second at 4.1 apg next to Dolezaj. Head coach Jim Boeheim has harped on Richmond’s fitness level, and he’s shooting just 22.2 percent from downtown, which is why we’re rating him at an A- as opposed to an A. But you can tell that Richmond is a perfect fit for the zone, and is definitely a point guard of the future that can play at an All-ACC level by the time he’s done with his college career.
Woody Newton: B+. There wasn’t much hype around Newton, who was ranked just inside the top 150 and a three-star prospect in the 2020 class. But he’s already leapfrogged Robert Braswell to become the team’s seventh man, and has shown a deft touch from 3-point land (42.9 3pt%). He’s got the classic Syracuse wingspan and athleticism, and should be a major contributor in his career.
Robert Braswell: D-. Braswell has appeared in five games, and played around 40 minutes in those contests. Here’s what he’s got to show for it so far: 0-12 shooting from downtown, 4 turnovers, 0 assists. It’s been a tough road for him at Syracuse so far, and with five-star wing Benny Williams arriving at Syracuse in 2021 and the development of Woody Newton, it’s hard to see a path for Braswell to break into the SU rotation.
John Bol Ajak: D+. While Sidibe has been out, Ajak has been the primary reserve center off the floor for Dolezaj. That hasn’t amounted to much, as he’s averaged 5.8 minutes in 5 games. He plays with high energy, but he’s got little to show for it, with more fouls (3) than points (2).
Jesse Edwards: D-. Edwards appears to have regressed in his sophomore season. He was on the edge of Boeheim’s rotation in his freshman year, averaging 6.9 minutes per game in 21 appearances, showing a nice touch (79.2 FG%) around the hoop. But Edwards has looked timid and outmatched in the 12 minutes he’s played this year. He’s fallen behind Ajak (29 minutes) and Anselem (26) in playing time, and only has three points and three fouls to date.
Bourama Sidibe: INC. Sidibe should be back in early January 2021, and the hope is he will pick up where he left off in the final stretch of the 2019-20 season, where he averaged 10+ rebounds per game.
Frank Anselem: INC. Anselem oozes potential, but as a true freshman buried behind four (five if you count Dolezaj) centers, Anselem likely won’t make an impact for a year (or two).