Syracuse’s offseason started on Saturday night following the Orange’s 62-46 loss to Houston in the Sweet 16.
Afterward, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim hinted that there would be plenty of roster turnover in the offseason given the new NCAA and ACC transfer rules.
A player, transferring for the first time, will no longer have to sit out a season after the NCAA voted to change the rules earlier in the year. The ACC also changed its intraconference transfer rules, allowing a player to transfer within the conference.
“There are going to be a lot of transfers this offseason, and we aren’t immune to it,” Boeheim said. “Players are going to leave and do what makes them happy. We’re going to lose some players and that’s the reality.”
Part of what happens at Syracuse depends on the decisions of three players that aren’t going to enter the transfer portal: Quincy Guerrier, Marek Dolezaj and Bourama Sidibe.
Sidibe and Dolezaj, under normal circumstances, would’ve exhausted their eligibility this year. But the NCAA voted not to count this past season against scholarship eligibility, meaning that either or both could return for an additional season.
But would they? Sidibe would be 24 to start the 2021-22 season, while Dolezaj is turning 22. Sidibe has spent the better part of his career nursing injuries and may not be healthy enough to see the floor again. Dolezaj has maxed out his opportunities in Central New York, and may want to begin what will likely be a promising Euro-career.
Guerrier is also turning 22 in May, and after being named All-ACC Third Team, may want to test the NBA Draft. During his peak, he was listed on some mock drafts as a potential second round pick, though with his recent drop off in production, he’s no longer projected. That said, he could try the G League route to the NBA, much like his fellow Canadian, Oshae Brissett, who recently signed a 10-day contract with the Indiana Pacers.
The impact of those three will open up (or close down) playing time for these players as they contemplate their collegiate futures.
- Woody Newton: Newton was a fixture in Syracuse’s non-conference rotation, appearing in six games in 2020, including a double digit minutes in wins over Niagara, Rider and Boston College. But once the new year rolled around, he only played in five more games, logging a combined 14 minutes and was bypassed by Robert Braswell in the rotation. If Guerrier stays, and if five-star Benny Williams lives up to the hype, it’s hard to imagine a path to playing time for Newton.
- Alan Griffin: Griffin finished the season as the team’s third leading scorer at 13.7 ppg, but completely vanished over the last four games, scoring a combined 8 points in just 12.7 mpg. Boeheim attributed his loss in confidence in Griffin to his defensive lapses. Griffin is perhaps miscast as a wing at 6-5, 190 lbs, and would be better suited as a guard. But there are precious few minutes there as well with Buddy Boeheim, Joe Girard and Kadary Richmond firmly entrenched. He may also feel the squeeze in minutes and potentially lose his starting role with Williams coming to campus. He’s already transferred once – could he do so again?
- John Bol Ajak: It’s hard to see Ajak ever playing meaningful minutes at Syracuse. He appeared in 10 games, averaging 5.1 minutes in those games, and mostly looked overwhelmed. Even if Sidibe and Dolezaj both leave, he’d still need to win a battle against Frank Anselem (more on him below) for minutes.
- Frank Anselem: Anselem oozes talent and was originally supposed to be a 2021 recruit and had offers from schools like Kentucky before he reclassified and was a late addition to the Orange’s 2020 class. But following an ugly road loss to Duke on Feb. 22, Boeheim expressed frustration with Anselem, stating that “He really should be in high school. He […] isn’t ready to play right now.” Anselem and Edwards could be the center combo next season for SU, or perhaps Anselem will try for guaranteed playing time elsewhere.
- Robert Braswell: Braswell came on as a key member of the rotation over championship season, and leapfrogged Newton in the rotation. But with Williams coming and Guerrier staying, minutes will be scarce. If Griffin stays, that only makes playing time harder to come by.