USA TODAY Sports
Syracuse has cruised to a 16-1 record, but much like last season, Jim Boeheim's club has now hit a speed bump with eligibility issues arising for one of the Orange's key contributors.
Syracuse senior forward James Southerland is out indefinitely because of an eligibility issue, the school announced this weekend. Southerland sat out the Orange's Saturday win over Villanova, which improved their record to 16-1 overall. The school did not go into specifics regarding Southerland and did not provide a timetable for his potential return (via Mike Waters of The Post-Standard):
"Due to an eligibility matter, Senior James Southerland will not participate in competition until further notice,'' the release read. "Given University policy and federal student privacy laws, we are unable to provide any further details at this time.''
This is the second year in a row that Jim Boeheim has had to contend with eligibility issues for one of his key contributors. Last season, Fab Melo was entangled in eligibility issues in both the regular season and during the NCAA Tournament.
While Southerland is not in Boeheim's starting five, much like Dion Waiters last year, he is an essential part of the rotation on both ends of the floor. At 6'8, he's a true stretch-forward who can shoot from three-point range and his length is a huge asset for Boeheim's zone defense. He's third on the team in scoring at 13.6 points per game, averaging just over 26 minutes.
On Saturday, Boeheim would not comment beyond the brief release from the school. As they almost always do, the Orange have cruised through the first two months of the season and are ranked in the top 10. They will almost certainly be in contention for another conference title in their final season in the Big East, but the loss of Southerland would be a big blow with ranked Louisville and Cincinnati on the schedule in the next week.
This story originally appeared at SB Nation.