Syracuse Basketball: Biggest Question Each Incoming Freshman Must Answer
Jim Boeheim is bringing in five freshmen for the 2013-14 season in hopes of reloading a Syracuse team that suffered heavy losses after reaching the Final Four last season.
Unfortunately, none of the freshmen come in without questions surrounding them, and each of the five must answer one overarching question.
Let's examine each incoming freshman's biggest question.
C Chinonso Obokoh
Can he develop an offensive game?
Chinonso Obokoh is a big-bodied 6'10" center who has the size to do some damage at the next level.
He is a defensive-minded player who can shut down opponents at the center or power forward position, and he possesses great athleticism.
Right now he reminds me a bit of Rakeem Christmas. He has good size and athleticism, but he struggles on the offensive end. Christmas rarely scored from outside of three feet from the basket this season, and Obokoh is the same way.
He isn't going to be getting a lot of playing time in Syracuse's crowded frontcourt, but Obokoh must work extremely hard to develop an offensive game if he is going to become a valued part of this team.
SG Ron Patterson
How much can he contribute to a weak backcourt?
Ron Patterson must help Syracuse in the backcourt this season. There is simply no way around it.
Syracuse is very thin in the backcourt, where sophomore Trevor Cooney is the only returning impact player. Patterson is going to be asked to contribute, and he must step up immediately.
At 6'3" and 195 pounds, Patterson has solid size for a combo guard, and ESPN describes him as "a physically gifted guard with a chiseled and rock solid physique, long arms, and high level athleticism."
Patterson certainly appears to have the physical tools needed to succeed at the next level, but he must refine his skill set in order to contribute immediately.
SF B.J. Johnson
Should he redshirt?
B.J. Johnson is a long, lanky wing at 6'7" and 165 pounds, and he might benefit from a year off before attempting to play at the collegiate level.
I'd like to see Johnson gain at least another 30 pounds before he dons a Syracuse uni. However, the question of whether or not he should redshirt his freshman year goes beyond his size troubles.
Syracuse has a plethora of talented wings who will be stealing playing time from Johnson. C.J. Fair is the team's best player for next season, but the team also has guys like Jerami Grant, Michael Gbinije and Tyler Roberson who will play over Johnson.
Last but certainly not least, Johnson is a long-term project. While he is ranked in the Top 100 by ESPNU at No. 82, that seems to be more of a speculative ranking than a what-can-you-do-for-me-right-now ranking.
ESPN even describes him as "a work in progress with strong tools" and has said that "his body is immature. While that's not a huge deal, it's the type of situation that may limit him out of high school."
I don't expect much from Johnson this season, which is why it might be better for him to redshirt a year and save his eligibility.
F Tyler Roberson
How much playing time will he get?
Tyler Roberson is one of Syracuse's top two recruits, being ranked No. 31 in the ESPN 100. Unfortunately for the combo forward, he will be competing with a ton of other forwards for playing time, including C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant, Michael Gbinije, Rakeem Christmas and more.
Roberson is very talented and has the potential to be a big contributor for the team down the road. He is a freak athlete who has found a way to combine his physical gifts with a solid skill set.
While he'll need to add some strength, that's a problem that many high schoolers have when transitioning to the college game, it is an easy fix. What's more important is that he is a perfect fit for Jim Boeheim's offensive and defensive plans, and he could be a star in a few years.
How much of him will we see this year?
With so many talented forwards on the roster it will be difficult for him to get much playing time, and he is going to have to earn it in practice.
PG Tyler Ennis
Is he ready to be the starting point guard?
Whether he's ready or not, Tyler Ennis will be starting for Syracuse next season and will be replacing Michael Carter-Williams at the point.
Syracuse simply doesn't have another option to play point guard, and Ennis is the team's best recruit, ranking No. 20 in the nation according to ESPN, and he is the No. 5 point guard.
Ennis is a very different player than MCW was. Whereas MCW was a big athlete and needed to refine his skill set, Ennis uses his quickness, passing ability and overall craftiness to deceive opponents rather than run over them.
While he still possesses great athleticism, Ennis is more of a stereotypical point guard than the freak athlete MCW was, and he will have the tools around him to succeed right away at the next level.
The only question is will he?