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Syracuse men’s basketball season preview series: Walk-ons

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Today we begin our preseason coverage and start with the walk-ons.

Cornell v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Ed. note - This piece will mark the beginning of TNIAAM’s Syracuse basketball season preview coverage, which includes position and individual player profiles, amongst various other topics. Today, we preview the walk-ons.

The 2019-20 Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team has many unknowns, but a deeper roster than recent years is certain. That means we’re not likely to see as much action from the walk-ons this season, and it would take several injuries and multiple players to foul out for one to play major minutes like Braedon Bayer did in 2017-18. Nevertheless, SU’s walk-ons are still essential to the team’s functioning and preparation, and the following four are this year’s collection:

Shaun Belbey

Position: Guard

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 165 lbs

Year: Graduate student

Hometown: Brick, N.J.

High School: Christian Brothers Academy (N.J.)

Belbey, who redshirted in 2018-19 to attend graduate school this year, received a basketball scholarship last week for the second season in a row, per Syracuse.com’s Donna Ditota. He appeared in 18 games for the Orange from 2015-18, scoring twice. His sights, though, are set on becoming a basketball trainer, and he has interned in Los Angeles the last three summers for NBA and college trainer Drew Hanlen. He also met and worked with NBA player Isaiah Thomas this past summer. Belbey’s older brother is Kevin Belbey, a former SU men’s basketball student manager and the founder and general manager of Boeheim’s Army.

St. John’s v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Nick Giancola

Position: Forward

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 183 lbs

Year: Junior

Hometown: Lexington, K.Y.

High School: Lexington Catholic (K.Y.)

Giancola, the tallest of the walk-ons, made the team this year after working as a student manager, a path that previous walk-ons like Patrick Herlihy have taken. Giancola is also Jim Boeheim’s nephew, a connection that swayed him to become a student manager at Syracuse over Ohio State.

Chris LaValle

Position: Guard

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 175 lbs

Year: Junior

Hometown: Syracuse, New York

High School: West Genesee (N.Y.)

LaValle is also a new face on this year’s team after transferring from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, where he played on the JV men’s basketball team. LaValle’s mother was Kelly Seubert, who was an administrative assistant for Coach Boeheim for 13 years. She died in August 2017 from cancer, and the program renovated the players’ lounge in her name.

Brendan Paul

Position: Guard

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 175 lbs

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Shaker Heights, O.H.

High School: Hawken School (O.H.)/Brewster Academy (N.H.)

After putting up big numbers at the Cleveland Am-Pro over the summer and working with NBA trainer Robbie Haught, Paul entered the NCAA’s transfer portal last month, and with the support of Jim Boeheim. He will remain at SU for the fall semester, and maybe the spring, but plans to transfer as a junior and have three years of eligibility left. Paul, who as of last month had been contacted by Missouri State and Appalachian State, is seeking playing time at another program.

In 2017-18, Paul played a fifth year of high school basketball at Brewster Academy along with Buddy Boeheim. Brewster was 26-7 that year and appeared in the National Prep School Championship. Paul committed to Syracuse in 2017 as a preferred walk-on, choosing the Orange over Division II and Division III offers. Paul played in nine games last season and didn’t log any stats, but hit two three-pointers in last month’s exhibition tour in Italy.

St Rose v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images