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Syracuse men’s basketball season preview series: Guards

Can a young Syracuse backcourt rise to the challenge in 2019-20?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 05 Syracuse at Notre Dame Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is the third article of TNIAAM’s Syracuse men’s basketball position preview series. Previous profiles included the walk-ons and centers. Today, we focus on the guard group.

As far as the guards go, Syracuse Orange basketball assistant coach Gerry McNamara will have his youngest group to work with since the team’s inaugural year in the ACC. In 2013-14, Syracuse had freshman Tyler Ennis running the point with sophomore Trevor Cooney at the two.

Now, the Orange will have two true sophomores in Jalen Carey and Buddy Boeheim while redshirt sophomore Howard Washington is in the mix as well. That group will be pushed by two freshmen who could vie for minutes right away as Brycen Goodine and Joe Girard look to make an impact in their first season.

It’s too soon to tell how the guard rotation plays out in 2019-20, but Carey and Boeheim figure to start at the point and shooting guard, respectively, to begin the season. Early reports indicate that Goodine will earn some playing time, but Girard comes to Syracuse as the all-time leading scorer in the state of New York after dropping over 50 points per game last season at Glens Falls. Washington could also crack the rotation, given that he’s a high IQ player entering his third year at Syracuse.

It’s a relatively inexperienced group overall, but the benefit of having five guards is knowing that someone is bound to emerge. Each player in the guard group is broken down below.

Eastern Washington v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

Name: Jalen Carey

Position: Point Guard

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 186 lbs

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Harlem, N.Y.

High School: Immaculate Conception (N.J.)

Carey enters his second year at Syracuse after being the highest ranked SU recruit in the 2018 cycle. He earned a pair of starts last season early in the year at Madison Square Garden with Frank Howard out with an injury. Battling an ankle injury himself in those contests, Carey poured in his two best performances of the season by dropping 26 points on UConn and 14 on Oregon. Carey would score only score that many points (40) the rest of the season, coming off the bench the rest of the way.

He’s worked industriously this summer, and he played well in Syracuse’s preseason trip to Italy as the starting point. He’ll use his quickness to get out on the fast break and look to run the offense in the half-court. Having multiple shooters around him on the wing could be a tailwind for Carey, who’s excellent in the pick-and-roll game. How well he plays on the defensive end and how well he handles pressure on the offensive end will determine his minutes this season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 02 Syracuse at Pitt Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Name: Buddy Boeheim

Position: Shooting Guard

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 195 lbs

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Syracuse, N.Y.

High School: Brewster Academy (via Jamesville-Dewitt)

Buddy needs no introduction, but he’ll enter his second year at Syracuse as the team’s starting shooting guard. Mid-way through last season, he earned his spot as the first guard off the bench by filling a much-needed void in shooting. Of anyone who took over 30 threes in 2018-19, Boeheim finished second on the team (to Elijah Hughes) in 3-point percentage at 35.3 percent. He knocked down 47 threes on the year.

Boeheim will have to a be a threat off the dribble this year, something we saw out of him in the 2019 ACC Tournament. He’ll have to rebound from the guard spot and be able to knock down a one- or two-dribble pull up, to which he’s capable. While he’s not the quickest guard in the zone, he’s a solid defender given his positioning and anticipation. All signs point to Buddy having a good sophomore season as he’ll be able to get his shots this year and do a little more off the bounce.

Name: Brycen Goodine

Position: Guard

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 183 lbs

Year: Freshman

Hometown: New Bedford, Mass.

High School: St. Andrew’s School (R.I.)

Goodine comes into his freshman year at Syracuse from St. Andrew’s in Rhode Island, the same program that sent Michael Carter-Williams and Demetris Nichols to SU. He was the NESPAC Class AA Player of the Year, which is impressive given the competition level in that league. He average 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game as a senior.

Goodine is an intriguing option as he doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses to his game. He has the potential to be a good defender regardless of scheme and can rebound well from the guard spot. On the other side of the ball, he’s quick and can take it off the dribble and finish at the rim or from mid-range. He’s a willing passer and a better shooter than advertised from deep.

Goodine was the third guard in rotation during the Italy trip and he figures to earn minutes right away.

Name: Joe Girard

Position: Guard

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 181 lbs

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Glens Falls, N.Y.

High School: Glens Falls

Girard will probably forever be linked to Jimmer Fredette, given both guards’ rise out of Glens Falls, their accomplishments there and the ascent into the college ranks. The two of them have worked out together and have a strong relationship, so get your Syracuse basketball bingo cards ready.

As mentioned, Girard comes to Syracuse as the all-time leading scorer in the state of New York with 4,763 points. He led Glens Falls to both football and basketball state titles and he’s won Gatorade Player of the Year in New York multiple times. He has more accolades to his name than what will fit on this page.

Given his walking-bucket status and in-the-gym range, Girard will vie for playing time right away. For what it’s worth, he was the fourth guard in rotation in the team’s preseason trip to Italy. The backcourt is deep, but Girard could earn more minutes if other guys aren’t up to the task and if he both plays defense well and adjusts to the physicality of the ACC. There’s no question he can shoot the ball at a high level.

Eastern Washington v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

Name: Howard Washington

Position: Point Guard

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 175 lbs

Year: Redshirt Sophomore

Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y.

High School: Athlete Institute (Ont.)

Washington enters his third year at Syracuse, but hasn’t played a full season given injuries and health concerns. During his freshman year, Washington was thrust into the backup point guard position until an ACL tear kept him out of the final two months of the season. From there, he rehabbed hard, but suffered a stroke last fall and applied for a medical redshirt. He played in three games in 2018-19 but sat the rest of the way.

Now, Washington will look to crack the guard rotation as a redshirt sophomore. He’s a smart player from the point guard position and likes to set up his teammates. Washington can shoot it from the outside, too. He played solid minutes in Italy as a reserve guard. How much he plays this year is to be determined, but if the other guys aren’t ready and if his health isn’t a concern, Washington could very well find himself in the thick of things.