The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is now just a few weeks away from its preseason tour in Italy where it will compete in four exhibition games. With that, most of the players on the 2019-20 squad have gathered on campus at SU for the second summer session and for practices at Melo.
Among those players is Jalen Carey, a rising sophomore point guard who figures to take on a larger role this season with both Frank Howard and Tyus Battle departing. His summer will have Greece and Italy bookends; the former, a trip to Athens with the USA East Coast team where he competed in three games, visited the Acropolis and even sampled some Greek cuisine.
“That was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a while,” Carey said of his trip to Greece. “It was my first time leaving the country so that was big for me. We’re going to Italy now so it’ll be a long summer for me.”
He might be well traveled, but you’d be mistaken if you thought this summer has been one of leisure for the Harlem, N.Y. native. Carey has been working diligently on his game “each and every day” at least twice per day in preparation for the season ahead. When asked what he’s focused on, Carey says he’s working on every aspect of his game.
“Everything, really. Just becoming a better point guard, a better shooter, better at decision-making, been working on my body,” Carey divulged. “Everything that comes with the game of basketball I’ve been trying to work on and better myself.
“Since I got back to Cuse we’ve been going in the morning. Wake up at six o’clock, go lift at seven and then workout after that. Individually I’ll come in late night or try to find time in between my day, between study hall and just put shots up.”
In the weight room, Carey noted that he’s been working on his conditioning and stability especially. He’s currently at 180 pounds, he says, dropping about two since the end of the 2018-19 season.
Earlier this summer Jim Boeheim told Adam Zagoria that Carey would probably start at the point guard this upcoming season. His minutes might have been few and far between by the end of his freshman season, but Carey stayed ready just in case his named was called. Boehiem and the assistant coaches noted that Carey always came into practice and worked hard despite a reduction in playing time as his freshman year went on.
Alas, there’s precedent to Carey’s situation at Syracuse where talented freshmen guards have been used sparingly. Former guys like Michael Carter-Williams and Dion Waiters were limited to bench roles in their first seasons at SU before blowing up in their sophomore campaigns. Carey is hopeful he can make the second year jump.
“I just want to be one of those next guards. In terms of the season I just want to get all of the new guys acclimated and (I’m) just trying to be that leader on the court. The main thing is just helping the team win, whatever I feel like I can do to help the guys win,” He said. “Just be a great teammate and help the team win. That’s all I’m about is winning.”
Winning will have to wait. For now, it’s a laborious summer of work with ten team practices sandwiched in between trips to Greece and Italy. If you ask Carey though, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Just continue to work. That’s my main slogan.
“You can never work too much,” Carey added. “I never believed in that.”