Here is a look at each of the scholarship players on the Syracuse roster, including a key number for each of the returnees.
Jesse Edwards – senior center, 6’11”, 230 pounds
Edwards took a massive leap forward as a first-time starter last season, averaging just shy of 28 minutes per game while starting 24 games before his season was ended by injury. Most of Edwards’ work on offense was done near the basket, as he shot 69.5 percent from the floor and averaged 12.0 points per game. Edwards also snared 6.5 rebounds per game, including 2.5 offensive boards, and blocked 2.8 shots per game. The senior will be counted on to anchor the defense while adjusting to drawing more focus from opposing defenses by not sharing the floor with four capable three-point shooters.
KEY NUMBER: 12.4. Edwards’ impressive block rate underscores his effect on opposing players. He swatted just under one-eighth of all opponent two-point field goal attempts while on the floor.
Joe Girard III – senior guard, 6’1”, 190 pounds
It is no surprise that Girard posted career highs in scoring (13.8 points per game) and three-point shooting (89 threes made at a 40.3 percent clip) as a junior. However, he also showed savvy on the defensive end, leading the team with 53 steals by exhibiting a knack for playing passing lanes. Moving off the point to his more natural shooting guard position, Girard figures to be the focus of the Orange offense this season, looking for three-pointers both as a spot-up shooter and off screens and motion.
KEY NUMBERS: 49.4 percent and 44.8 percent. Those are Girard’s shooting percentages last season from the floor and from behind the arc when playing with at the two, respectively. Look for him to post career highs in both stats this season (yes, besting that 40.3 percent mark from three last year) as the SU offense aims to create open looks for him.
Symir Torrence – senior guard, 6’3”, 195 pounds
Torrence is the steady hand in the backcourt, capable of running the offense as long as needed. Torrance posted an excellent assist rate of 37.6 during his limited action, logging at least five assists in eight contests. While primarily looking to set up his teammates, Torrence also showed the intelligence to take advantage of open looks, making 21-of-35 shots from the field over a span of 15 ACC games.
KEY NUMBER: 3.4-to-1. The savvy veteran displayed near total control of the offense when called upon last season, posting this impressive assist-to-turnover ratio. Torrence also turned the ball over more than twice in just one game last season.
John Bol Ajak – redshirt junior forward, 6’10”, 216 pounds
Even with last season’s short frontcourt rotation, Ajak only saw very limited action, logging 62 minutes in a dozen games, the fewest among scholarship players. With the number of freshmen on the roster this season, it seems likely that Ajak spends even less time on the court this season.
KEY NUMBER: 6. Ajak is probably sixth (and last) in the pecking order of big men on the roster.
Mounir Hima – sophomore center, 6’11”, 230 pounds
Hima is an interesting prospect who transferred to Syracuse after spending his freshman season as Duquesne. While not polished on offense, Hima is a pretty solid defender, including establishing himself as a pretty fair shotblocker during his one season of Atlantic-10 play. Hima posted a 10.5 block rate and 21.9 defensive rebounding rate in limited action for the Dukes in his lone season, leading the team in both stats.
KEY NUMBER: 19.8. In six games (four starts) late in the season, Hima logged 19.8 minutes per game for Duquesne, averaging 4.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per outing.
Benny Williams – sophomore forward, 6’9”, 208 pounds
Williams is being counted upon to make a significant jump this season after seeing very limited time before suffering an injury late in his freshman season. Williams averaged 11.5 minutes per game last year, but displayed his tantalizing athleticism at times with a handful of breathtaking dunks or blocked shots. Williams struggled for long stretches, often looking uncomfortable on the floor, rushing a shot on offense as soon as he touched the ball. Most notably, though, Williams looked very comfortable in his second-to-last appearance, hanging 14 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes at home against Duke late in the season.
KEY NUMBER: 1-of-11. If Williams wants to take steps forward this season, he should probably shelve his three-point shot. Williams struggled outside the paint, shooting 9-for-42 (21.4 percent) on field goal attempts listed as “far two-pointers” and threes by T-Rank.
Chris Bell – freshman forward, 6’7”, 180 pounds
Maliq Brown – freshman forward, 6’8”, 213 pounds
Peter Carey – freshman center, 6’11”, 200 pounds
Quadir Copeland – freshman guard, 6’6”, 203 pounds
Judah Mintz – freshman guard, 6’3”, 172 pounds
Justin Taylor – freshman guard, 6’6”, 205 pounds