Bourama Sidibe, a Class of 2017 signee with the Syracuse Orange, could be an impact player that is going completely under the radar heading into next season.
Sidibe, who stands at 6-foot-11, had an impressive showing at the Jordan Brand Classic Regional Game last week, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against some of the nation’s best players.
But more importantly, Sidibe will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact next season with the lack of depth the Orange has at the center position.
Paschal Chukwu, a 7-foot-2 center, played in just seven games for the Orange this past season. He scored 12 points (6-for-9) and grabbed 29 rebounds in 109 total minutes. His season was cut short due to an eye injury (torn retina) which required surgery. He hurt his eye after being on the receiving end of a no-look pass from John Gillon in the beginning of the season.
The expectation is that Chukwu will be a full go for next season, but the expectations on the court are different -- simply because there are none.
Syracuse also has Taurean Thompson returning, who can play the center position, too. I anticipate Thompson will start at power forward, but he will without question see time in the middle of the zone.
Chukwu does have the advantage over Sidibe heading into next season. He’s been with the SU basketball program for two full years, and understands the system as well as any big on the roster.
Sidibe, much like Chukwu, passes the eye test as soon as he walks into the gym. With his size and length, he’ll be an immediate impact on the defensive end and the glass, which is something the Orange needs inside the 2-3 zone. And offensively, he’s further along in his development than most would assume. He has a back-to-the-basket game, although it does need some fine-tuning.
As for Sidibe’s weight, he told TNIAAM a few weeks ago that he’s above 205 and it’s something that he will continue to work on. His coordination is solid, and his offensive game is continuously improving.
His coach at St. Benedict’s, Mark Taylor, believes Sidibe can make an immediate impact at Syracuse. Taylor, who also coached former SU guard Tyler Ennis, says Sidibe is prepared just as well as Ennis was — which is quite the compliment to his game and preparation.
The newest assistant at SU — Allen Griffin — will be the new big man coach after Mike Hopkins’ departure to Washington. Griffin had a history of working with the bigs at Dayton, and should transition to his role at Syracuse without any trouble.
I don’t expect Sidibe to start over Chukwu, unless his eye injury is still an issue, but I do believe he’ll be a solid backup for the Orange all season who will contribute. And as for his overall future at SU — he should be a solid four-year rim protector for the Orange, which is so important in the 2-3 zone.