The Syracuse men’s basketball team begins its 2013-14 campaign with the official start of team practices on Friday, September 27.
Since their Final Four run just six months ago, the Orange stayed in the sports news cycle with an eventful offseason. Departing and returning players played the most significant role of the Syracuse summer story, while an illness here and a commitment there filled in the cracks.
In order to understand the makeup of this team, it is worth taking a look back through the headlines as they pertain to Syracuse to see the peaks and valleys of the offseason.
Gone are Michael Carter-Williams, James Southerland and Brandon Triche, who, save for C.J. Fair, made up a majority of the Orange’s scoring. In their wake is a new-look Syracuse team that will be forward-heavy and start a freshman at point guard.
As Syracuse bids farewell to the Big East and joins the ACC, we take a look back at the summer that was.
The Orange Nation let out a sigh of relief when C.J. Fair announced in late April that he would stay in school for his senior year.
With Southerland, Carter-Williams and Triche all leaving due to graduation and higher aspirations, Fair was the only meaningful scorer from last season to stay on.
The Orange expect big things out of up-and-comers Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis, but Fair has been Mr. Consistency for Syracuse as he was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.
Unlike Fair, Michael Carter-Williams could not resist the call of the NBA.
It was probably the best decision for Carter-Williams as he was a lottery pick (11th overall), and there was no guarantee he would go that high with a very deep NBA draft expected after this season.
For Syracuse, the decision wasn’t as great as the team is left with one true point guard, freshman Tyler Ennis.
Duke transfer Michael Gbinije will likely provide support as a backup for Ennis, as well as shooting guard Trevor Cooney, but the show is definitely in Ennis’ hands from the git-go.
Syracuse got a gift in the form of a package of four exhibition games in Canada against a quartet of schools from our northern neighbor.
The trip included an overtime thriller against Carleton, hailed as the UCLA of Canada.
The trip was successful in showing off DaJuan Coleman’s aggressiveness and Jerami Grant’s explosiveness. It also gave Tyler Ennis an opportunity to play with his new teammates and get some real game action to prepare for his time in the spotlight this season.
Incoming freshmen Chinonso Obokoh and Tyler Roberson were cleared to play this season by the NCAA clearinghouse, ensuring all five of Syracuse’s freshman will be eligible to play this season.
Obokoh was cleared first, with Roberson having to wait until the last minute for his announcement.
The two join Tyler Ennis, Ron Patterson and B.J. Johnson as the future faces of the university.
After much speculation into where he might end up, 5-star recruit Isaiah Whitehead chose the bleaker pastures of New Jersey in the form of Seton Hall over several schools he was rumored to be considering, including Indiana, St. John’s and Syracuse, which was considered an early favorite in the Whitehead lottery.
The highly regarded shooting guard will stay closer to home, leaving Syracuse jealous of its former conference mate.
Likely contributing to Whitehead’s decision was Kaleb Joseph’s commitment to Syracuse.
Joseph is ranked the No. 10 point guard in the ESPN 100 and would have made a Whitehead-dominated backcourt less likely.
Joseph would likely be the understudy to Tyler Ennis and take over when/if Ennis leaves for the NBA.
After being selected to USA Basketball’s U19 World Championship Team, Jerami Grant had to leave the team due to being diagnosed with mononucleosis.
Grant seemed to be no worse for wear after Syracuse’s trip to Canada, but the illness is still worth noting as it is known to have lingering effects including fatigue, which can go on for a few months.