Benny Williams, Syracuse Orange, ACC Basketball

The Syracuse Orange enters a new era of basketball with Adrian Autry replacing Jim Boeheim after 47 years as head coach.

As is tradition, CBB Review is again ranking the top 100 teams heading into the new college basketball season. Each day, we will reveal the next team until we reach the team slotted at number one. Follow along with #CBBRank on all our social media channels.

For the first time since 1975-76, the Syracuse Orange have a new men’s basketball coach. His name is Adrian “Red” Autry and he inherits one of the most underrated teams in the country.

Starting in the backcourt, the Orange could have the best 1-2 punch in the ACC. Judah Mintz could have gone to the NBA after a stellar freshman season but opted to come back. He’ll share the backcourt with JJ Starling, a Syracuse area native, and another rising sophomore. Starling was one of Notre Dame’s top scorers and should benefit from playing next to Mintz.

The Orange are blessed with almost too many talented wings. Chris Bell and Justin Taylor are knockdown shooters and are listed at 6-7 and 6-6 respectively. At 6-9, Benny Williams has some small forward qualities, but can also – and will need to – play power forward for the Orange this season. Maliq Brown, who I have projected to start at PF, had a good freshman season and led the Cuse in field goal percentage last year.

Syracuse will need answers in the frontcourt. 7-4 Naheem McLeod comes over from Florida State but has never had to play big minutes. He will likely need to double his minutes this season, so durability and stamina are two key factors. While Brown can always shift to play center, Peter Carey and William Patterson are the only options off the bench. Both were not highly rated recruits in high school and will certainly need to prove their worth to Autry.

Regardless, if the Orange can get a lot out of McLeod, and a surprise from Carey or Patterson, they are oozing talent at all other positions.

Click here to learn more about our preseason top 100 teams heading into the 2023-24 college basketball season.

Head coach: Adrian Autry (1st season)

2022-23 record: 17-15 (10-10)

2023 postseason finish: No postseason

Notable departures: Joe Girard III (Transferred to Clemson), Jesse Edwards (Transferred to West Virginia), Symir Torrence (Transferred to Binghamton)

Notable non-conference games: vs. Tennessee (Nov. 20), Maui Invitational (Nov. 21-22), vs. LSU (Nov. 28), at Georgetown (Dec. 9), vs. Oregon in Sioux Falls, SD (Dec. 17)

Projected Rotation

PG: Judah Mintz (6-3, 178, So.)

2022-23 stats: 16.3 PPG, 4.6 APG, 2.3 RPG, 1.8 SPG

SG: JJ Starling (6-4, 206, So.)

2022-23 stats: 11.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.1 APG (Notre Dame)

SF: Chris Bell (6-7, 188, So.)

2022-23 stats: 6.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.4 APG, 34.5 3P%

PF: Maliq Brown (6-8, 222, So.)

2022-23 stats: 5.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.9 APG, 69.8 FG%

C: Naheem McLeod (7-4, 265, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 3.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.2 APG, 1.2 BPG, 54.7 FG% (Florida State)

6: Benny Williams (6-9, 210, Jr.)

2022-23 stats: 7.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 0.8 APG, 39.6 3P%

7: Justin Taylor (6-6, 218, So.)

2022-23 stats: 4.2 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.7 APG, 39.3 3P%

8: Peter Carey (6-11, 205, So.)

2022-23 stats: 3 games played (Season ending injury)

2022 247Sports Composite No. 252 rated recruit

9: Chance Westry (6-6, 190, So.)

2022-23 stats: 2.5 PPG, 1.0 APG, 0.7 RPG, 11 games played (Auburn)

10: Quadir Copeland (6-6, 200, So.)

2022-23 stats: 2.1 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 0.5 APG, 34.1 FG%

11: Kyle Cuffe Jr. (6-2, 190, Rs.-So.)

2022-23 stats: 2 games played (Season ending injury) (Kansas)

2022 247Sports Composite No. 109 rated recruit

12: William Patterson (7-2, 220, Fr.)

247Sports Composite unrated recruit

Syracuse Orange MVP: Judah Mintz

Mintz is as shifty and explosive as they come and started to develop a fairly consistent three-point shot toward the end of his freshman year. At 6-3, he has a slight frame, but is bouncy and quick, which helps him finish in the lane with high-flying dunks and acrobatic finishes.

On a team with Joe Girard III and Jesse Edwards, Mintz still managed to average 16.3 PPG and dish out 4.6 APG. Defensively, he was arguably Syracuse’s best option. While stronger guards can manager to overpower Mintz, he plays with an edge and hustles to make plays.

Heading into this season, Mintz is one of the top returning players in the ACC and would be the reason the Syracuse Orange find success this season.

Syracuse Orange make-or-break player: Benny Williams

Syracuse fans have been begging Benny Williams to become the 5-star recruit they know he’s capable of. He’s not a bust yet – but time is ticking for Williams to put it all together.

The 6-9 Williams is uber-athletic, has a good enough three-point shot to keep teams honest, and can be one of the best players on the court. However, he doesn’t always show that tough side of him, and under Jim Boeheim, it landed him in the doghouse.

With Autry as the new head coach, Williams gets a fresh start. However, don’t expect that to mean he’ll be coddled to. Autry still has a strict style of coaching. I’m projecting Williams to come off the bench to start, but he could wind up being the top sixth man in the ACC, or a starter by season’s end. He just needs to play like he’s capable of, every game.

Key analytic: 2PA

In today’s age of college basketball, the three-point shot is crucial to master. But last season, Syracuse chose to shoot more twos. In fact, the Orange averaged 41.8 two-point shots per game, 25th in the country. Interestingly enough, they only converted at 50.4%, just outside the top 200.

Things get even more interesting when you look at how the Orange were 339th in three-points attempted, but 71st as a team in 3P%, at 36.2%.

Of course, that can be due to Mintz and Williams not being regarded as three-point shooters, when in reality, both were actually pretty solid when they did launch away. A few things could happen this season. Either Autry wants his guys to let it fly more, or certain SU players will still be on a leash, and they want to pack it inside to McLeod.

Syracuse Orange 2023-24 projections

Projected conference finish: 7th in the ACC

Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Round of 32 Exit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.