The Syracuse Orange will have something different on this year's team compared to last year's squad, and that difference is the addition of a European recruit. The Orange have seen a bunch of their former players play overseas, but this time around they'll have their own versatile and crafty European player looking to make an impact.
Marek Dolezaj is a unique player where he'll bring size along with a great shooting touch that will hopefully solve the Orange's spacing problems. Not much has been said about the foreign talent, but hopefully he'll make his name hard to forget in the upcoming weeks.
Weight: 180 lbs
Hometown: Bratislava, Slovakia
High School: Karlovka
Dolezaj spent last year playing in the 2017 FIBE Under-20 World Cup European Pre-Qualifier where he put on a scoring display. He dominated the offensive side of the ball where he finished with the fourth highest scoring average during the tournament, posting a 16.9 average. He didn't only fill one section of the box score as he also contributed for 4.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game.
He can do it all.
His breakout game was in a loss to Russia where he finished with 28 points and five rebounds. Coach Jim Boeheim isn't looking for those kind of stats from his first-year forward, but Dolezaj will be called upon to help out in all areas throughout a long season.
Dolezaj's length has made him nearly impossible to guard on the perimeter. He can hit the three, pull up for mid-range looks, and finish at the rim with his length. He doesn't have one specific weapon that puts him over the edge, but his ability to score in a multitude of ways will allow coach Boeheim to have some fun with a few different sets. His length will not only allow him to score at will, but it'll also let him pass over the defense for open cutters in the lane.
His length will make him a force to be reckoned with on offense, but it'll also allow him to make an impact in the 2-3 zone. Dolezaj's size will make it hard for ball handlers to find easy looks at the rim, making it easier for Syracuse to generate fast-break looks.
Imagine a trio at the bottom of the zone that consists of Dolezaj, Oshae Brissett, and Paschal Chukwu — you see it? Probably not because of all that arm length down low. Dolezaj's strength is a question mark as he looks to compete at the collegiate level, but his unique skills should help him adapt over time.
This will help you learn how to say the new guy's name.
The sudden departure of Taurean Thompson will open up some minutes for Dolezaj to (potentially) play, but this won't be a season where you see him on the court often. He has the skills to help contribute at this level, but he needs to learn the system and the pace of play before he gets thrown into the fire. Look for Dolezaj to show flashes of excellence in a limited amount of time.
Stat Prediction: 5.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1 assist