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Syracuse Basketball: Will Chris McCullough Be a Freshman Standout?

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Twice per week from now until Syracuse's first regular season basketball game, we'll discuss a burning question about the team. Today's question: Will Chris McCullough be a star in his freshman season?

USA TODAY Sports

Here's what we know about Syracuse Orange freshman Chris McCullough:

  • He's tall (6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan) and about as athletic as they come
  • He's Syracuse's only 5-star incoming recruit and was ranked 24th in the ESPN 100 for 2014
  • Jim Boeheim loves him -- the coach has described McCullough's potential as "unlimited"
What we don't know, however, is whether or not McCullough can be a star as a freshman, like Tyler Ennis was a season ago and like Carmelo Anthony was in 2003.

If McCullough does live up to the hype this season, it could be Syracuse's recipe to perhaps competing for a national championship. If he doesn't pan out immediately -- well, that could spell doom for the Orange, who are without their top three scorers (Ennis, C.J. Fair, and Jerami Grant) from last season and who already have lower-than-normal expectations.

Boeheim's kind words towards McCullough aren't something to ignore. If there's one thing we know about Boeheim, it's that he doesn't hand out that kind of praise unless he means it. He loved Ennis prior to last season, and he said so. Same with Carmelo 11 years ago.

As a senior for IMG Academy last year, McCullough averaged 22.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. The kid's a scorer -- he can get to the rim and he can score from deep. In that sense, he's got some Kevin Durant in him.

But whispers have also popped up that, at times, McCullough lacks intensity. That scares me. To succeed in Boeheim's system, you have to play hard. Always. Fortunately, Boeheim doesn't seem too worried. Per syracuse.com:
"I think he's a really good kid. I think he's gotten a little bit of a rap about not playing hard. I haven't seen it," Boeheim said. "I've watched him work out. I've watched him work out in a gym, playing 4-on-4, he plays hard. I don't see that at all being an issue."
One thing's for sure: McCullough has talent. At this point, it's impossible to know if he'll live up to that talent and fulfill his potential. And we won't get a better idea until November 2, when Syracuse hits the Carrier Dome court for its first exhibition game against the Carleton Ravens. But I'm choosing to buy what Boeheim's selling. By mid-season, I expect McCullough will be Syracuse's go-to guy, and I believe it will make the Orange a real contender in the ACC.

What do you think?