Even on a Syracuse team that will feature only 10 scholarship players eligible to play this season, you have to figure that at least a couple of them won't get on the court much in 2015-16. And based on what we know right now, one of those players will probably be freshman guard Frank Howard.
We can't definitively say that until SU head coach Jim Boeheim addresses the media in mid-October, but it seems unlikely Howard will see much playing time in a crowded and talented Orange backcourt. Boeheim is known to use short benches, and there just might not be enough minutes to go around.
Of course, you can throw all of that out the window if Kaleb Joseph isn't much better than he was a season ago. In theory Joseph should improve, and his play with the USA East Coast team indicates that he might have already taken the next step. But if the Syracuse point guard were to badly struggle out of the gate, Boeheim would then have a decision to make. Do you move Michael Gbinije to point guard full-time or do you give some of those minutes to Howard?
This is obviously a hypothetical that might never come to fruition, and if it did, my guess is Boeheim would favor using Gbinije at point guard -- even though the coach has indicated before that he prefers Gbinije on the wing. But if there does come a scenario in which SU needs Howard to contribute in some capacity this season, what should Orange fans expect?
It's difficult to know for sure, as I haven't had the luxury of watching Howard play much. But from the limited amount of him that I have seen, it's clear why the Syracuse coaches felt he would be a good fit. He's a particularly active defender, and at 6-foot-5, he's long for a guard, which will translate well into SU's 2-3 zone.
Offensively, he needs to be developed. Howard struggles at times with his ball-handling and should look to add some weight, which would aid him in being able to finish through contact.
He's also an inconsistent shooter, but he's able to create his own shot, both from the perimeter and the mid-range. He looks at times like a natural point guard -- even though he's not -- and makes smart, crisp passes. He's also a fluid athlete and quite a good slasher, something that has frequently been noted.
Obviously, we'll know much more about Howard once he actually plays for Syracuse. And, again, that might not be until 2016-17. By that point, he should be at the center of the Orange's plans. Both Gbinije and Trevor Cooney will have departed, presumably leaving their spots in the rotation to be taken over by Howard and Class of 2016 recruit Tyus Battle.
And while Battle will be a potential one-and-done player, there's a good chance Howard could stay for four years -- or even a fifth year if he redshirts. So get used to him, because he should be around awhile.