If you’ve watched the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team in pregame warmups this season, you might have caught yourself captivated by a slender 6-foot-9 player donning No. 20. While playing time has come few and far between in his freshman season, Robert Braswell draws intrigue from observers with the prospect of what could be.
When Syracuse forwards line up on the baseline during warmups to catch weak side lobs, Braswell jumps as if he’s been thrust off of a spring board and shows off his athleticism by catching the ball in mid-air and throwing down windmill dunks in one motion.
That prototypical combination of height, length and athleticism makes it easy to understand why the Syracuse coaching staff recruited Braswell and it also makes one think that his potential at Syracuse could be realized. His build is apropos of successful Syracuse forwards of years past.
While he’s only played a total of 53 minutes in 10 games this season, Braswell has made the most of his time by scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. His most notable performance came in a surprise outing in the first half of the NC State game, when Jim Boeheim gave him an early nod and the freshman quickly delivered by grabbing three steals from the forward spot in the 2-3 zone.
He says it’s hard to come into games off the bench and understands the added pressure of not making a mistake.
“Coming into the game cold is pretty hard,” He said. “You have to be precise. You can’t mess up.”
Still, in the moments that he has played in games he’s done mostly well. He even had a few raucous dunks in the St. Bonaventure and Arkansas State games back in December. But Braswell chalks this all up to a learning experience this season.
He says it’s been an adjustment to the college level — especially because he’s playing in the ACC — but feels like he’s working hard in practice and he hears that from teammates and coaches.
“I would just say it’s a learning season. I’m learning a lot,” Braswell said. “Learning all the plays and what decisions to make at what times and all that.”
Braswell grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, but has moved around quite a bit. As a result, he flew under the radar on the basketball recruiting scene and was a late-riser in the 2018 class. Only when Darius Bazley de-committed from Syracuse did the coaching staff recruit Braswell and offer him a scholarship.
Braswell’s mother is in the U.S. Navy, which is why he spent his early teenage years in Germany. He would later come back to the U.S. where he’d enroll at Blythewood High School in South Carolina at the end of his 9th grade year to close out his high school career.
It was there where Braswell became a two-time state champion in high jump, clearing 6’10” last spring. He’ll head back to South Carolina next weekend when Syracuse takes on Clemson, to which he estimates is about, “2 hours or 2 hours and 30 minutes,” from Blythewood. He noted that he’d have five or six family members and friends in attendance at LitteJohn Coliseum for that game.
Syracuse fans will also be happy to know that Braswell is a fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars, coached by former Syracuse football coach Doug Marrone.
“I think just because I grew up there I support them,” Braswell finished.