Coming off a trip to the Final Four, the Syracuse Orange are looking to reload after losing three stars to the NBA. The team will need big contributions from each of its starters to have the same success it did last season.
Syracuse's starting five is still a bit of a mystery since the team brings in six new players. It's tough to pick which of the team's many wings and big men will be starting come November, and even tougher to figure out which will be starting in March.
Let's take an early look at the projected starters and how they'll fair this season.
According to ESPN, Tyler Ennis is a very gifted point guard who is coming in as the No. 20 prospect in the Class of 2013.
Ennis is not quite the athlete that Michael Carter-Williams was last year for the Orange, but he is a deceptive player with a lot of skill. He has great vision and passing ability, and he's a terrific ball-handler who gets through the paint because he takes care of the ball.
While Ennis isn't as tall, long and athletic as MCW, Orange fans might be happy for a change of pace after seeing how frustratingly inconsistent Carter-Williams was. Ennis should be a solid option at the point, and I expect him to post good numbers.
Projected Stat Line: 10.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 5.7 APG
Call me a hater, but I just don't have much faith in Trevor Cooney.
Cooney played 11.2 minutes per game and averaged 3.4 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game—while shooting just 32.2 percent from the floor (26.7 percent from three).
However, this year he will be a sophomore and will be competing for the starting job since the Orange don't have many options in the backcourt.
Cooney will be taking on a bigger role, but he'll have a tough time replacing Brandon Triche. I'm expecting Syracuse to rely heavily on its many wings and big men to handle most of the scoring load—leaving Cooney with poor numbers.
Projected Stat Line: 8.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.6 APG
C.J. Fair is ready to step up and be a star.
The 6'8" wing was impressive last year—averaging 14.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game despite sharing the spotlight with Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Triche and James Southerland. Now, however, he is the best player on the team by a mile, and his numbers should spike.
According to ESPN, Fair decided to come back to Syracuse for his senior season, and he will be looked to to carry the scoring load and provide senior leadership.
With his athletic ability allowing him to throw down some vicious dunks and his soft touch and range giving him a sweet stroke, Fair will have a monster 2013-14 season.
Projected Stat Line: 20.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.1 APG
Rakeem Christmas was a McDonald's All-American coming out of high school, but he hasn't lived up to the hype just yet. People are still wondering when he'll have his breakout season, and I see him taking one step closer this year.
Christmas is a 6'9" forward who is incredibly gifted as an athlete. He has a world of potential—but his jump shot is one of the worst in the ACC. While he shot 53 percent from the floor last year, most of his shots were within two feet of the basket.
Christmas is talented enough to start at center, but at 6'9" he really should be a power forward. I see him starting alongside sophomore DaJuan Coleman next season.
Projected Stat Line: 8.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 0.4 APG
DaJuan Coleman looks like he might be Syracuse's next super sophomore. Speculation is already running rampant that he will make the leap, but I'm not expecting him to start putting up 20 and 10.
Coleman is a big center who was ranked No. 14 in the Class of 2012 by ESPN. He has the potential to dominate inside because of his girth and strength, but he wasn't on the court all that much last season—playing just 12.7 minutes per game and suffering a knee injury.
Coleman suffered from poor conditioning for a majority of the season, but I fully expect him to be using this time off to work hard so that he can stay on the court for long stretches of the game.
Averaging 4.8 points and 4.0 rebounds doesn't sound impressive, but if he kept up his pace for 30 minutes he would have averaged 11.3 points and 9.4 boards per game. Now that he's had a year to learn, I'm expecting him to take a big leap forward next year.
Projected Stat Line: 9.8 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 0.5 APG