The Syracuse Orange were able to add some much-needed frontcourt depth to their 2018-2019 roster last Sunday when Robert Braswell committed to play for the Orange this upcoming season. A late-bloomer, Braswell may not be the most newsworthy recruit, but his potential should excite Syracuse fans for what could be.
Braswell is a 6’9” athletic power forward who can run the floor and finish plays above the rim. Braswell isn’t your typical athletic big man however, as his ball handling skills are more relatable to a guard than a forward.
Braswell’s ability to handle the ball on his own makes him a lethal threat in transition, but also a dynamic weapon to use in the half court. He can cause an automatic mismatch when you put a smaller or bigger defender on him, due to his leaping and dribble penetration ability.
So, with all this positivity should come 30-minute outings and collegiate dominance for the 6’9” forward, right? Wrong.
Braswell lacks the weight and muscle to be dominant at the collegiate level…for now. His lack of body frame hindered his ability to get many looks from top programs, due to his likely potential struggles in college for his first year (or two).
Jumping over smaller defenders will only get you so far, as Braswell is certain to see stronger bodies that are already prepared for the NBA when he enters ACC play. His lack of muscle could lead to him getting pushed around at times, but the Syracuse faithful shouldn’t give in to this being a “gap” year for Braswell—the Orange are going to need him.
Darius Bazley’s decision to head to the NBA G League and the transferring of Matthew Moyer had left Syracuse with a pretty shallow front court—insert Robert Braswell.
Marek Dolezaj is the only real power forward on this roster next year, but Osahe Brissett can slide in there when the Orange want to go small. However, as we saw last year with the abundance of injuries and high minute totals, anything can happen throughout the NCAA season, and Braswell’s name is going to be called upon to bring quality minutes.
His lack of body strength could make him a liability on both ends of the floor at times, but his talent and athleticism will make him a versatile weapon for coach Jim Boeheim to utilize. Braswell will find himself on the block in the 2-3 zone, where he will be able to use his athleticism to his advantage when closing out on shooters in the corner—something the Orange struggled with last year.
His athletic ability should allow him to generate a few blocks and steals too, which will create easy looks on the fast break—where Braswell can also take advantage. To hide his lack of strength, getting out and running will allow for Braswell to use his guard like handles when the opposing defense isn’t set up—a likelier chance for a basket.
Playing in the half court will be challenging for Braswell, as his lack of muscle will hinder his ability to score inside and beat his man off the dribble, but his pure talent will inevitably pay through and lead to buckets; the 6’9” forward can also stretch the floor, the part of the game the Orange missed desperately last year.
The Orange aren’t going to be asking for many minutes out of their third 2018-2019 recruit, but they can ask him to bring energy and change the momentum of the game when he enters for brief stints.
Braswell is going to contribute this year, as long as coach Boeheim puts him positions that highlight his “strengths” rather than seeing his weaknesses get exposed. Braswell is a project for coach Boeheim and the Orange, but that doesn’t mean procrastination is in order for this season.