The worst kept secret in the recruiting world was that Tyler Ennis was going to commit to Syracuse. Yes he wanted to go through the process and make sure that was the right fit. But all along, Syracuse stood out.
The first game Ennis ever attended in person was at the Carrier Dome watching the Orange. They were a dream school for the 5-star point-guard. A dream he was able to realize when he made his pledge in August.
"It was my dream school when I was younger," Ennis told Scouthoops.com national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels when he committed. "I always wanted to go to Syracuse."
That feeling was mutual as the Syracuse staff made Ennis their top priority for 2013. Not only was point-guard the biggest positional need, but the Syracuse staff fell in love with Ennis' game. He might be the best pure point-guard in the 2013 class.
"After this summer was done and the live period I just felt comfortable with them," Ennis also told Daniels. "They showed me that I'm one of their top recruits by being at all of my games."
After that commitment, other teams backed off. They knew how much Ennis loved Syracuse, and that a flip would be nearly impossible.
"I don't get calls at all now," he explained. "Sometimes coaches that were talking to me last year come to see the players this year. They'll see me and say, ‘hey.' But I don't get anything else."
That hasn't stopped Syracuse from staying in touch, however. Assistant Coach Adrian Autry has built a strong relationship with Ennis, and stays in touch regularly.
"Everyone keeps in touch to make sure I'm working out and getting better," he stated. "They came out for open gym they told me to keep progressing and keep working. Coach Autry calls me the most. He keeps up with me to make sure everything's good, and getting accepted to school with the clearing house and things like that."
A true floor general, in the mold of old school leaders at the point. Ennis has a great ability to lead and get his team to play together. His performance at the Nike EYBL this summer is the clearest indicator of his ability to lead. His AAU team, CIA Bounce, featured some of the most talented players in the country. Xavier Rathan-Mayes, 4-star Florida State commit, joined him in the backcourt. On the wing was the top high school player in the nation in Andrew Wiggins. Ennis led that team to the EYBL championship game.
He was able to get that collection of talent to play together and dominate a tournament which had the top prospects in 2013 and 2014. That leadership is one of the reasons Syracuse made him such a big priority.
Also a big factor was playing time. Syracuse has playing time available and Ennis wants to contribute right away. Exactly what role he will play will be determined by Michael Carter-Williams. If Carter-Williams leaves early, Ennis will be the lead guard right away for the Orange. If Carter-Williams decides to stay, Ennis will back him up and split time running the Syracuse attack. Either scenario is fine with Ennis.
"I'm hoping Mike has a big year but as far as him entering the draft, that's not on my mind too much," Ennis explained. "Just because I think we can play well together. He likes to score a little more than I do. Me and him playing the one and two whether it's him bringing it up or me bringing it up. It's difficult for a team to guard both of us.
"Hopefully, for him, he has a great year and does leave because I know that's his main goal to play in the NBA. But he's a guy I'd love to play with next year. Just because coming in as a freshman, it might be tough to not have a guy that has experience at the point-guard position. Being able to learn from him about be even better for me."
Given the athletes Syracuse already has and will have coming in, Ennis is the perfect fit to allow those players to be successful. Jim Boeheim gives his players as much, if not more, freedom than any coach in the college game on the offensive end of the floor. Ennis' unselfish play and strong basketball IQ will put those athletes in position to excel.
Syracuse loves to get out in transition. Ennis flourishes running the show in the open floor. With long, athletic players around him, he will be able to get out and run with the best of them at the next level. Excellent court vision will ensure Ennis finds the right man in 3-on-2 or 3-on-1 situations. Alley-oops, transition dunks, and easy buckets will be the norm with this talented guard running the show.
Don't mistake his ability to lead by facilitating to mean he cannot score, however. Ennis has a solid outside jumper, and is comfortable finishing around the rim. He has a quick first step to penetrate the lane where he can find a man for a layup, kick out to a shooter, or take it to the hoop himself. The Syracuse offense will be in excellent hands.
Often not discussed with Ennis is his defensive ability. Syracuse has made its mark by having long players at every position in its vaunted 2-3 zone. Ennis fits that mold at 6-foot-2 with a nice wing-span. His footwork is very good defensively, and his quickness allows him to beat his man to the spot. Ennis will fit right in at the top of the zone deflecting passes and forcing turnovers.
Now Ennis has signed his letter of intent and is officially part of the Syracuse program. Verbal commitments change all the time. Having the talented Canadian sign was extremely important, despite Ennis being about as solid a verbal commitment as one could have. Signing his letter was a special moment for him.
"It's not quite as special as committing was just because I was with my family and things like that," Ennis recalled. "But just being able to sign and have that be official is a great feeling."
Ennis is also excited about the other prospects Syracuse has in the mix for 2013 and 2014. Joining the St. Benedict's High product in Syracuse's 2013 class are Chinonso Obokoh, B.J. Johnson, and Ron Patterson.
"I think we have some of the pieces that we need to fill with seniors leaving and things like that," Ennis declared. "It's a bigger class than last year but we also have talent to go with it. So I think we'll be good. And the 2014 class with Chris starting it off, it's a huge start to have him recruit other guys and bring in other people."
Chris McCullough's commitment was a big deal for Syracuse, and something Ennis had been working on whenever the two would cross paths. He knows the ability McCullough has, and is happy to have him in the fold for 2014.
"I was surprised," Ennis said. "It was kind of random as far as the timing of it. But I talked to him when we played in a league in New York a couple months back. I talked to him and asked what schools he liked. He said Syracuse. We chatted a bit about Syracuse and how he feels about it. I knew he really liked Syracuse but I was surprised it was going to be this quick.
"I'm happy to have him in the mix. With the potential he has and his talent, he will help us in the years to come."
Both Ennis and Syracuse got what they wanted, and what they needed. It will be a fantastic fit for as long as Ennis stays in the program. His talent is undeniable, and passion for Syracuse unquestioned. He could be one of the biggest impact freshmen in the ACC in 2013.