Breaking down Syracuse basketball’s 2021-22 bench

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

Earlier, we took a look at the 2021-22 projected starters for the Orange. Here is a look at the projected bench players:

Bourama Sidibe – graduate student center, 6’10”, 220 pounds
Late in the 2019-2020 season, Sidibe was able to put together a strong stretch of play, posting six straight double-digit rebounding efforts, including three double-doubles. Other than that, his time at Syracuse has been marred with injuries and foul trouble. Sidibe missed essentially all of last season due to a knee injury and is currently on the shelf following a surgery on his other knee. In his last full season, Sidibe averaged 6.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game.
KEY NUMBER: Averaging one foul every 5.3 minutes in his career, Sidibe still needs to work on cutting down on whistles to contribute in the back line of the zone defense. As a starter two seasons ago, he still averaged one foul for every 5.9 minutes of play.

Symir Torrence – junior guard, 6’3”, 195 pounds
A Syracuse native, Symir Torrence transfers home after playing two seasons as a backup point guard at Marquette. Torrence played 622 minutes over those campaigns, posting a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in that time. He did struggle some with his perimeter shot as a sophomore, as evidenced by his 5-for-36 stat line from deep. Torrence did, however, connect on 9-of-24 threes as a freshman, suggesting he can perform better from there, especially with open looks the other Orange shooters can provide, but his perimeter shot needs work.
KEY NUMBER: 12.0 minutes per game. Torrence logged a dozen minutes per game at Marquette, but it remains to be seen how many will be available this season. Girard played 27.7 minutes per game last season, but that should trend upward, as he has the faith of head coach Jim Boeheim, likely limiting Torrence’s opportunities.

John Bol Ajak – redshirt sophomore center, 6’10”, 216 pounds
Ajak played sparingly last season, seeing just 51 minutes of action, then spent a little over two months in the transfer portal before opting to return to Syracuse. Before finding a path to playing time, Ajak will need to add some more muscle and continue to develop in practice. Ajak also spent some time in a walking boot during preseason practice and did not play in either exhibition game, suggesting he is still a ways from contributing.
KEY NUMBER: 3. Ajak finds himself behind the same three centers for the second straight season.

» Related: Recapping the 2020-21 Syracuse basketball season

Frank Anselem – sophomore center, 6’10”, 215 pounds
Sidibe’s injury also opens a path to playing time for Anselem, who played more minutes in this campaign’s two exhibition games (30) as he did his entire freshman season (26). Anselem is still a developmental player, but did show nice touch in making 4-of-5 foul shots last season, all in the game against Rider.
KEY NUMBER: 15. Until Sidibe returns from injury, there are likely around 15 minutes per game available to Anselem as a backup to Edwards. What he does with them will go a long way toward determining what happens after Sidibe returns to health.

Benny Williams – freshman forward, 6’8”, 208 pounds
Williams is a very athletic prospect, coming to the Orange from IMG Academy. The freshman led the Orange in rebounding in the exhibition game against Pace with nine boards in just 26 minutes. A top-30 recruit in his class, Williams is in line to be the team’s sixth man this season, filling in at either forward spot, including if and when Swider moves up to the top line of the zone.
KEY NUMBER: 25.5 minutes per game in two exhibition games. Williams got plenty of minutes in the two exhibition games as Boeheim mixed and matched multiple lineups. While he probably will not get that many minutes per game over the season, Williams will be counted on as a bench contributor.

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About Jim Stechschulte 750 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.