Tyler Ennis leaving after his freshman year means Syracuse will be thin at point guard for the 2014-15 season. It means the Orange will have a true freshman running the show for the second consecutive year. More than that, it means next season's Syracuse squad will start the year without an identity.
The Orange will have to figure out who they are. They will not have a proven playmaker in the backcourt, nor someone with that clutch gene you just can't team.
Kaleb Joseph steps in, but don't expect him to be Tyler Ennis. He is a different type of floor general.
"Scoring," Joseph's profile says. "That's where the Joseph evaluation must begin. He's more comfortable creating shots for himself than he is for others, and his game should translate well to the collegiate level. He's a fine mid-range jump shooter who would thrive in the high pick and roll, thanks to fundamentally sound mechanics, good elevation and a high comfort level from the elbows and baselines. Joseph is strong and aggressive off the dribble as well."
How Joseph will be able to run the offense remains to be seen, but it's not like Syracuse is getting a scrub here. Joseph is very talented with a lot of upside. His dream has been to play at Syracuse, and he will have the chance to play right away.
The Syracuse backcourt will now feature Joseph, Cooney, Gbinije and Patterson as the four most likely to see minutes. Boeheim generally only plays three guards, but this could be the season he looks to play four because of Joseph's inexperience and Cooney's inconsistency.
Patterson has tremendous upside, especially on the defensive end with his long arms. His outside shot showed improvement this past season, which could force him onto the court sooner rather than later.
Syracuse will likely look to add a 2014 point guard to add depth at the key position. They could hit up the junior college ranks as one option, or look towards an available high school option.
There aren't any prospects that have not signed somewhere that are on the level of typical Syracuse recruits. They are mid-major prospects. Players like Christen Cunningham, Darryl Gaynor, Makai Mason, Jaylan Robertson, Devin Watson, Perry Fairrow, Jordan Green and Pat McCaw are the best available. There are slim pickings here.
A name to monitor is Devonte Graham. He signed his letter of intent to Appalachian State, but has been trying to get a release from it for some time. Should State grant that release, he becomes an available four-star point guard as part of the 2014 class. Syracuse could make a push here, and has seen him play plenty given that he played at Brewster Academy.
Should Syracuse fail to add a 2014 prospect, they will likely add another guard in 2015. Franklin Howard becomes the name that shoots to the top of the list. The Orange would likely make a big push to land him.
In fact, Syracuse reached out to him as recently as Thursday night, just hours after Ennis' decision was made public. That points to Howard as the top backcourt target and could suggest 2014 prospects are not realistic. We will monitor Howard's recruitment, but always got the impression that if Syracuse could have the four-star guard if they wanted him.
Jerami Grant's Decision
Grant has yet to make a final decision. Everything we heard leading up to the offseason was that he was heading to the NBA. Now that the decision is upon him, he appears to be taking his time and thinking things through.
Grant is 50/50 at this point, but his decision could be tied to another domino that has yet to fall.
There is still a very real possibility that Grant returns to Syracuse for his junior season. That would be huge for the Orange in 2014-15.