SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Playing a true freshman significant minutes on a team that has a shot to make a national championship run is not something that Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim does on a regular basis. Let alone when it's the point guard that has so much responsibility within the Orange offense.
Then again, Tyler Ennis is not your typical freshman. Since arriving on campus, one thing has been clear. Ennis is a special player. Fans got a chance to see that during the exhibition tour in Canada. The team has taken notice, and believes he is the right man to lead them to the promise land.
"I'm very comfortable with him running things," senior forward C.J. Fair said. "He's going to be one of the top freshmen in our conference. He runs the floor well and has a great feel for the game. You can tell he's comfortable out there and he knows how to get you the ball in the right spot. He's not a normal freshman. He's much more mature."
Fair isn't the only one comfortable with Ennis running the show. Backcourt mate, Trevor Cooney, says the two have already developed chemistry.
"He doesn't play like a freshman," Cooney said. "I know coach (Boeheim) would say that. I think his experience helps with being on the Canadian national team and things like that. He's just knows the game very well. When he comes up the floor, his head is always up and he's always looking to make the right play. Whether it's a kick out to me or to another guard, or an alley-oop to Rak (Christmas) or C.J. (Fair) or DaJuan (Coleman). He just makes the right play and guys like that are fun to play with.
"Me and him have been great on the court. I know what he's going to do and he knows what I'm going to do. It's good to have that between guards. He's just fun to play with and that shows on the court."
Ennis' game is smooth and unassuming. Before you know it, he has 12 points and dished out eight assists. A quiet assassin with poise beyond his years, coach Boeheim believes he could be one of the best to ever wear Orange.
"Tyler is a steady player," Boeheim said. "He knows how to play and plays like a veteran point guard as a freshman. He's got a great skill set. He can be explosive and make plays. He also can run the team in the half court. He makes good decisions. He's probably as well prepared as any freshman point guard that we've had coming in as a freshman."
One of the challenges for Ennis will be to get the bigs, who have been inconsistent over the last couple of years, more involved on the offense end. Junior forward Rakeem Christmas believes he has the potential to form a special bond with the front court.
"He's a great point guard," Christmas said. "He's a pass first person. He's been doing good in practice and in Canada. He's a great point guard who's not selfish. He just wants to help this team anyway he can. Everything's good. He doesn't try to do too much. He just runs the plays and tries to get everyone involved.
"It's great because you know he's trying to get you the ball. So you just have to try to get in the best position so he can get it to you."
Ennis was a highly rated prospect coming out of high school for a reason. He is supremely talented and has uncommon maturity for a true freshman. While he has the potential to be special, Syracuse fans should enjoy him while they can.
Ennis and the Orange open the season in the Carrier Dome on November 8th against Cornell.