After coming out of the gates strong with the best start in school history at a perfect 25-0, the Orange lost five of its last seven games before the NCAA tournament, eventually falling to the Dayton Flyers in the third round.
The bad news for ‘Cuse fans did not stop there.
The Ennis Factor
Ennis led the ACC in both steals and assists and became known for his late-game heroics throughout the season, including a game winning 35-foot shot at the buzzer against Pitt on Feb. 12 to give the Orange a dramatic 58-56 victory.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound guard was somewhat mum about his deception, but he did release the following statement.
"I'd like to thank Coach Boeheim, the coaching staff, my teammates and the amazing fans of Syracuse for the opportunity to play at a great university like Syracuse. I feel this experience has helped prepare me to fulfill my lifelong dream – to play in the NBA."
In a Sirius XM radio appearance with Adam Schein prior to Ennis' announcement, Boeheim gave his thoughts on his now former point guard and how he might translate as a pro.
"To play point guard, the toughest position to go into the NBA is point guard," Boeheim said. "There's the most good players at that position and physical players. And I think he needs to get stronger."
He added, "His shooting is getting better, but he needs to shoot the ball better and a year would really help him."
The departures of Fair and Ennis means Syracuse will be without its two leading scorers from this past season. The team could potentially lose sophomore forward Jerami Grant as well, although Grant has yet to make a decision on going pro. The deadline for early entry eligibility is April 27.
Many scouts project both Ennis and Grant as first round picks, while Fair is more likely to go in the second.
Despite the loss of several key players, Boeheim has a couple of recruits from the class of 2014 that likely will be ready to contribute right away.
Kaleb Joseph out of Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Ma. comes in at 16th overall in the Scout.com rankings for point guards in his class. Joseph is "a fine mid-range jump shooter who would thrive in high pick and roll, thanks to fundamentally sound mechanics, good elevation and a high comfort level from the elbows and baselines," according to his ScoutHoops evaluation.
Joining Joseph is 6'10 power forward Chris McCullough out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fl. McCullough is ranked third at his position, using exceptional speed and athleticism that "allows him to race back on defense and pin attempted dunks and layups on the backboard." He will fit in the back line of that 2-3 zone just fine.
While Syracuse awaits Grant's decision, it is clear these soon-to-be freshmen will have to make an impact if the Orange want to rebound next year from a disappointing end of the season, which began as a promising one.