With the basketball offseason officially underway, here’s a quick look at the 2022-23 Syracuse basketball team:
- Bourama Sidibe: Injuries ended up hurting what was a promising career for Sidibe. He appeared in different parts of five seasons with SU, but only appeared in 15 games in the last two seasons. With an season-ending injury to Jesse Edwards in February, Sidibe got pressed into action more, and played some critical moments down the stretch. He’s now out of eligibility.
- Jimmy Boeheim: There’s a slight chance that JBIII could return to Syracuse pending an appeal to the NCAA, but it’s more likely that the Cornell transfer’s college eligibility has been exhausted. He was named to the the ACC Championship’s All-Tournament Second Team, and ended his career with a 28 point, seven rebound performance against then-No. 7 Duke.
WHO’S LIKELY OUT:
- Buddy Boeheim: An All-ACC First Team performer, Buddy led SU and the ACC in scoring at 19.2 ppg. But he also saw a dip in his shooting percentages, finishing the season shooting just 40.6 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from downtown (down from 43.3, 38.3 his junior year). He’s got another year of eligibility, so theoretically, he could return, but all indications are that he will move on to the professional ranks.
- Cole Swider: A reserve for three seasons at Villanova, the former top 40 recruit started all 33 games in the 2021-22 season, and had career highs across the board, including in points (13.9) and rebounds (6.8). He finished the season on a shooting tear, shooting 16 for 33 from beyond the arc his the last four games. He, like Buddy, has another year of eligibility left should he choose to use it (and there are some indications that he might).
WHO COULD BE OUT: With the new transfer rules, it seems like anyone on the roster who hasn’t used a transfer (Symir Torrence and Swider are the only two that fit this category) could be gone. Still, here are some likely candidates.
- Benny Williams: Syracuse got a glimpse of Williams’ potential in a loss to Duke at the end of February, when Williams played 30 minutes and finished with 14 points and six rebounds. In SU’s season finale against UNC, he played just 8 minutes before missing the rest of the regular season with a lower body injury. With his inconsistent minutes, the five-star recruit could look for a more steady role elsewhere.
- Frank Anselem: Anselem was one of Syracuse’s most improved players this season, and filled in admirably for the injured Edwards. He’s still raw, but his 9 point, 15 rebound performance against FSU in the second round of the ACC Tournament shows what kind of production he’s capable of. Still, he’s going to be behind the depth chart to Edwards next season, and he may want a starting role himself.
- Chris Bunch: The highest rated of all of the SU commits in 2022, he was ranked 96th in the 247 composite. Bunch is slight at 6-7 and 185 points, but he possesses good athleticism at the wing position, and was an excellent shooter in high school.
- Justin Taylor: Taylor is regarded as a potential heir-apparent to Buddy Boeheim. The smooth shooting guard is ranked a four-star recruit and the 108th best prospect in 2022 according to 247 Sports. He spent this last season at IMG Academy.
- Quadir Copeland: Speaking of IMG Academy, Taylor teamed with Copeland at the Florida prep school. The 6-6, 175 point guard is a tantalizing prospect at the top of the zone, but may need a season to develop before he’s ready to play at the ACC level. 247 Sports has him ranked as a three-star prospect and the 143rd overall player in his class.
- Maliq Brown: Brown was once ranked in the top 100 of his class, but finished 233rd overall. The 6-9, 210 pound forward dominated his competition in Virginia, but Syracuse will be a signficant step up in compeition for a player who was once Taylor’s high school teammate.
- Peter Carey: At 6-11, 190, Carey possesses excellent athleticism and soft hands. He was injured his senior season, and comes in as a three-star prospect and the 262nd rated recruit in his class. Carey is not expected to contribute right away, but has the potential to bloom later in his collegiate career.
WHO MAY BE IN:
Syracuse is one of four finalists for top 50 prospect Judah Mintz, a former Pittsburgh commit. The Orange, DePaul, NC State and Wake Forest are all in the hunt for him, but the early indications are that he’s a DePaul lean. He would represent the kind of splashy recruit that Syracuse needs to top off the class, and has the exceptional bounce and motor you’d expect from a high-four star player.
As we wrote above, Syracuse is already losing two players, likely losing two more, and potentially losing another two after that. Who is likely to come back? We break it down here:
- Joe Girard III: Girard has played out of position in his college career to date. More suited to be a shooting guard, Girard has had to play point guard as he had to defer to Buddy Boeheim. With Buddy (likely) moving on, Girard can slide back to his more natural position.
- Symir Torrence: Syracuse appears to be in good hands even if Mintz decides not to come to Syracuse. Torrence, a pass-first point guard, displayed his potential to run the position against Duke, finishing with 7 points, 11 assists and six rebounds, and just two turnovers. What would push his game over the edge would be an improved jumper.
- Jesse Edwards: Edwards became a key part of SU’s starting 5, averaging 12.0 points and 6.5 rebounds before going down for the season with a fractured wrist. If he returns, he has All-ACC potential.
- John Bol Ajak: Ajak appeared in 12 games and averaged 5.1 minutes in those contests. Perhaps he can enter the portal again as he did last season, but if not, he can certainly bring energy and enthusiasm off the bench if he does indeed return.
EARLY MVP: Playing in his natural SG role, Girard scored 23 points against Duke. Girard may be a polarizing player among SU fans, but given the opportunity to be an off-guard, Girard could tap into the role that made him New York State’s all-time leading high school scorer.
EARLY MIP: If Torrence is given the keys to the car, the senior could have a renaissance year. As I mentioned above, shooting is an issue for him, but that’s definitely something that can be worked on.
EARLY DARK HORSE: Williams may have had an inconsistent freshman season, but should he decide to return for his second year, the spot vacated by Jimmy Boeheim and potentially Cole Swider is there for the taking.
- Will the Orange’s defense improve? Syracuse’s adjusted defense was an atrocious 211th in defensive efficiency according to the KenPom rankings, an unheard of ranking for a Jim Boeheim coached team. Part of that was the personnel. While the zone can hide one or two less than stellar defensive players, Syracuse had four of them in its starting lineup. That should change for the better with the roster turnover, though that’s not really a high bar to clear.
- Will Syracuse’s offense keep pace? On the flip side, Syracuse boasted one of the best offenses in the country, finishing 16th in KenPom’s offensive efficiency rankings. The loss of up to three starters will certainly affect that rating, though an improvement on defense would probably help the overall bottom line.
- How does Syracuse schedule next year? Jim Boeheim put his team through an absolute gauntlet in the non-conference portion of the schedule, playing seven consecutive high majors at one point in November and December. The Orange didn’t pass the test during that time, a portent of things to come. So far, Syracuse is slated to play in the 2022 Empire Classic, which features Richmond, St. John’s and Temple—not exactly a murder’s row of a non-conference slate. That should at least give the Orange more opportunities to place itself in the win column.
- Who transfers out of Syracuse? Last year, the Orange lost an unprecedented number of players because of the new transfer rules. It would be naive to think that the Orange won’t lose additional players this offseason.
- Who else will Syracuse add? With the NCAA Tournament starting this week, there may be a player who will be looking for a new school in the portal. If Jimmy Boeheim and Swider really are moving on, Syracuse would be well served by taking a hard look in the portal for a wing with starting potential.
- So when is Jim Boeheim going to retire? While he stated to Brent Axe that he has an ‘ironclad‘ succession plan in place, he was vague on the details. He promised his 2022 commits that he would coach them, and there’s no indication he won’t be back in the fall. But could 2022-23 be his last season? He is, after all 77 years old, and will turn 78 in November.