Entering the 2012-13 season, the Syracuse Orange will rely on the emergence of young guard Michael Carter-Williams, who has tremendous potential.
He didn't see a ton of playing time his freshman year because he had to wait his turn. Jim Boeheim's squad was stacked with a great rotation of guards that Carter-Williams was able to learn from.
In his intermittent stints on the court, Carter-Williams gave Orange fans reason to be excited for the future. His demeanor, skills and upside all point to a prolific Syracuse career.
So what is it about Carter-Williams that gives him seemingly unlimited potential?
For starters, he's got a great natural feel for the game. He showed great court vision for a freshman and above-average floor-general instincts. MCW has an eye for opportunities that most young college guards don't have.
In fact, there were a couple passes he made that had me thinking, wow, I don't know if Scoop Jardine or Brandon Triche would've seen or executed that.
He tended to over-dribble sometimes, but that's something most young point guards grow out of. The important thing is that he really does seem like a pass-first guard, even though he's 6'5" and has shot-creating ability.
About that height and length: it's another reason to believe in Carter-Williams' future success. He's got the physical tools to make passes above and around defenders, as well as finishing fast breaks like this one against St. Johns.
His combination of length and agility will also help him on the defensive end, and I project him to lead the team in steals next year.
Let's take a look at some key statistics from MCW's freshman campaign:
He dished 2.1 assists in just 10.3 minutes per game, which was the best assist-per-minute rate on the Orange. In addition, he maintained an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.4, which was tops on the squad.
He had a 20.8 PER (Player Efficiency Rating). Only Dion Waiters and James Southerland had better ratings on the team.
Not all his categories were rosy. Two numbers he must increase are his free-throw percentage (57 percent) and his weight (185 pounds).
Ultimately, Carter-Williams' success depends on the chemistry he forms with his teammates. But if he taps into his capability, he'll be a superb point guard. He'll run the fast break, facilitate in the half court and play solid defense.
The potential is there. It's up to MCW to bring it to fruition.
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