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Syracuse men's basketball 2017-2018 player previews: Paschal Chukwu

Will the big man finally put it all together?

NCAA Basketball: Boston U at Syracuse
This is the time for Paschal Chukwu to prove that he belongs.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to miss a 7'2" center walking around campus, and this year won't be an exception with it being a make-or-break year for Paschal Chukwu. Chukwu has what it takes to be a force in the paint for the Syracuse Orange, but injuries and inconsistent play has derailed the Providence transfer's time at Syracuse.

Taurean Thompson's departure leaves a massive hole in the front court for the Orange, but if Chukwu is able to put his physical attributes together the Orange may be able to rebound from the loss of... literally every other forward.

NCAA Basketball: Boston U at Syracuse
Paschal Chukwu needs to use all 7'2" of his body for Syracuse to succeed this year.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Center

Height: 7'2"

Weight: 226 lbs

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Westport, Conn

High School: Fairfield Prep

Due to foul trouble and inconsistent play, Chukwu hasn't been able to maintain many minutes in coach Jim Boeheim's system. Even in the limited time the big man has managed, the stats have shown that much more is needed out of the 7'2" center. In just over 15 minutes per game last year, Chukwu averaged 1.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. The hope is Chukwu will be able to increase those minutes, but to do so he's going to need to see more production in both the points and rebounds categories. It's going to be a long year if those numbers stay the same, but more playing time will hopefully show the real Pachal Chukwu and what he can really do while on the court.

Chukwu's most important skill set is his sheer size. His physical presence down low helps alter opposing team's drives and decisions in the paint. His two blocks per game last year are an impressive feat, but he has shown the tendency to get into foul trouble by not going straight up (he averaged 2.1 fouls in 15.4 minutes per game last year). If Chukwu's able to stay out of foul trouble, the fans won't have any problem finding where he is as he denies opposing drivers one at a time.

A capable defensive force is all Syracuse is asking out of Chukwu, but a more consistent offensive game wouldn't hurt either. Chukwu isn't a polished low post scorer, but he'll be able to make his presence felt if he's able to catch and finish lobs while also getting easy looks off of offensive rebounds. The key for a positive season from Chukwu is to keep it simple, and with his size and a clean slate, he can get it done.

NCAA Basketball: Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational-South Carolina vs Syracuse
Consistent play is the key for Paschal Chukwu keeping his likely starting spot.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

This is the time for Chukwu to put it all together; there are open spots on this roster for him to make his presence felt, and that can be done through being a defensive tower and finishing easy looks around the rim. He'll be the likely starter on opening night, but inconsistent play can lead to Bourama Sidibe replacing him.

However, with quieter expectations, look for Chukwu to feel more comfortable on the floor this year. The Orange have multiple guards to who can penetrate the lane, which will allow Chukwu's defender to leave him open under the rim. Syracuse is in desperate need of someone to make their presence felt down low, and this is the perfect chance for Chukwu to prove he's worth all the hype.

Stat Prediction: 8.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2.3 blocks

Chukwu has heard his fair share of negative press during his time in orange, but with a fresh start, look for Chukwu to thrive with a brand new opportunity.