What a difference a year makes. Just last season Michael Carter-Williams was barely playing, a talent that needed to marinate...on the bench. Seasoning behind the likes of Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche, and Dion Waiters. Of course, Carter-Williams had some growing up to do, too. But 2011-12 was all about biding time.
Now, a year later, he's quickly made the jump from the pine to star of the Syracuse Orange. A six foot six point guard who actually seems to care more about setting up teammates than racking up points of his own. A quick first step with the vision not to lose track of where he is and where his teammates are. Watching Carter-Williams this season, it's almost disappointing when the super sophomore doesn't come close to a triple-double.
I mean, he's leading the nation in assists per game (10.4), second in steals per game (3.8), and, at 5.6 rebounds per game, Carter-Williams, a point guard remember, is third in hitting the boards for Syracuse. So obviously, Carter-Williams, to this point, has proven his value to Orange fans. But, I'm not so sure the Syracuse faithful realize just how many people are taking notice of the sophomore.
It's one thing to put up huge numbers against Monmouth, a game in which Carter-Williams scored 15, dished out 16 assists, recorded five steals, and even had 4 blocks. But it's another thing to do that against legit Big East competition, and we won't see that for a few more weeks. So, I think for a lot of Syracuse fans, now is a little too early to give Carter-Williams the superstar stamp of approval. But that isn't stopping the experts, who seem to have fallen head-over-heels for MCW.
Currently, we have Carter-Williams ranked as the top point guard prospect on our Big Board and have him ranked overall as a top-10 pick. If he ever finds his shooting stroke, he could end up in the top five on draft night.
That's Chad Ford writing about Carter-Williams for a piece he did with Jay Bilas on determining who is the nation's top point guard. Ford and Bilas write a great deal about Carter-Williams -- Bilas writing, "most potential to grow as a player and become truly special." In fact, Bilas called Carter-Williams a prospect on the rise just last week. High praise from some of the industries most respected judges of talent.
Ford, who literally lives and breathes draft stocks, has nine 'positives" listed about Carter-Williams against only two "negatives." The two downers? Essentially saying Carter-Williams adding strength and developing a more consistent shot. Basically, two easy to fix negatives -- with Carter-Williams already working on his jumper.
And it's not just ESPN all over Carter-Williams. Here's a look at where some other experts have the second year/one year wonder going in next June's NBA draft:
So what's all of it mean? Well, I think it's easy to figure out that A. Carter-Williams has a lot on the line as Syracuse's schedule starts to heat up. Should he put up big numbers against the likes of Louisville, Georgetown, and Pittsburgh Jim Boeheim may have yet another lottery pick on his hands. And B. even if Carter-Williams doesn't continue at the crazy pace he's at now, I think Orange fans should get ready for another early defection -- at this point, Carter-Williams is as good as gone.
Of course, there may or may not be that whole weird Lord & Taylor thing lurking. I have no idea what to make of it, but it's something to keep an eye, I guess. But for now, assuming that's over and he avoids injury or major meltdown, this time next year Carter-Williams will be suiting up for an NBA team. Another year, another big leap.