A lot is expected of highly recruited and hyped freshmen today in college basketball. The Michigan Wolverines got serious contributions from newbies Mitch McGary, Glen Robinson III, Spike Albrecht, Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert in getting to the brink of an NCAA championship in their freshmen year.
The 2013 Syracuse Orange recruiting class is ranked as the sixth-best class according to Scout.com.
They will clearly be expected to come in and contribute right away as the Orange have lost three of their four most important players from this past season's Final Four team. Seniors Brandon Triche and James Southerland hope to hear their names called in the NBA draft along with probable lottery-pick Michael Carter-Williams.
As for the most important remaining player, Orange nation will spend the next few days on edge waiting for C.J. Fair's announcement as to his plans for next year.
So as the stage is now set for the newest members of the Orange, what should we expect of them?
A lot will certainly be expected of the two Tylers—Ennis and Roberson—who highlight this outstanding class. Let's take a look at what each needs to prove.
Ennis is the most prized member of this terrific class. The 6'2" 180-pound Canadian is heralded not only because of his considerable talents but because the Orange have a 6'6" void at point guard with Michael Carter-Williams headed to the NBA.
Here's what Ennis has to prove:
He can stay on the court: Ennis will have to avoid foul trouble and injury because he is the only point guard on the roster. Trevor Cooney should start at shooting guard with Ron Patterson and swingman Mike Gbinije on the bench. None of them are capable of handling the point.
Shoot well enough to keep defenses honest: Next year's team will be dependent on a talented front-line as opposed to this year's perimeter-centered team. Ennis is terrific on the break and penetrating but will need to hit enough jumpers to keep defenses honest and create some space inside for his bigger teammates.
Make good decisions in transition: Ennis excels on the break, and next year's team will be loaded with athletes who can finish at the rim. Ennis has to deliver the ball to them.
Play well at top of zone: He doesn't obviously have the length of MCW but still needs to be a defensive force to help trigger the break.
The 6'7" 200-pound power forward is expected to come in and contribute right away. What will Jim Boeheim be looking for him to prove?
Grasp the zone: It's a bit tougher for big men to transition to the zone than the little guys up top. The decisions and switches are tougher. Just ask DaJuan Coleman. If Roberson struggles on defense, we won't get to seem much of him on offense.
Rebound: He needs to make sure he boxes out on defense and is active pursuing offensive rebounds. Put-backs will be a big part of his offense.
Get out on the break: Next year's team may run more than this year's Orange. If Roberson hustles and fills a lane, Ennis will deliver him the ball.
Hit a few jumpers: Not looking for him to get out to three-point range, but he has to hit enough in the lane and around it to open things up inside.
Patterson is a solid 6'3" 195-pound shooting guard who will look a bit like Brandon Triche. Will he play like him?
Play good defense: Patterson's playing time will be greatly affected by how he plays on the defensive end of the floor. For evidence of that, just look at Dion Waiters' and DaJuan Coleman's freshman seasons. Each was a better offensive player than the guy ahead of them, but sat because Jim Boeheim expected more defensively.
Hit from deep: Patterson will need to stick enough three-pointers to make his man come out at him. This will open up the inside for the front-line and help create some room on the other side of the perimeter too.
Penetrate: Patterson isn't a knock-down shooter so some penetration will give him some more room.
Get out and finish on the break: Just like Roberson, Patterson will be expected to get out and fill a lane for Ennis.
Johnson is a 6'7" 165-pound small forward who might struggle to find playing time next year. These will help:
Add strength: Johnson will need to spend time in the weight room and get stronger. That will go a long way towards getting him on the court.
Grasp the zone: His defensive effort and play will also determine how much he plays.
Rebound: He will be expected to hold his own on the boards, both defensively and offensively. Put-backs may be the way he gets shots.
Make some shots: He will need to make a few shots here and there in addition to put-backs and filling the lane on breaks.
Obokoh, a 6'10" 220-pound Baye Moussa Keita clone, will have a lot of work ahead of him to get on the court.
Add strength: He will need to add bulk to battle the bigger, stronger centers of the ACC.
Grasp the zone: There's a reason this one is repeated so often. It's important. Very. The transition from high school to the aggressive 2-3 zone played by the Orange is tough for big men.
Come with energy: Obokoh will be expected to come in and shake things up. He will have DaJuan Coleman and Keita ahead of him and won't have to worry about getting in foul trouble. He has to come with passion and effort.
Rebound and trigger the break: He will need to do well on the glass and snap off good outlet passes to Ennis.
Follow me on Twitter @sprtsramblngman