As ACC play gets started in earnest for the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team this weekend, publications are looking back at the season so far for mid-season awards. One of those was The Athletic, which named the All-ACC team through December. That list included Syracuse’s Elijah Hughes, of course.
Hughes wasn’t just a first-team honoree, however. He was also a contender for ACC Player of the Year. James put together a really nice feature on Hughes today, detailing his contributions both on and off the court. But it’s worth noting again just how impressive his stat line’s been — perhaps especially for a middling 8-5 squad seemingly destined to miss out on March Madness altogether.
His 19.8 points per game obviously lead the Orange, and only trail Louisville’s Jordan Nwora (20.2 ppg) in the ACC this year. If he can top 20 ppg for the full season, he’ll join a pretty elite group in Syracuse history too. Hakim Warrick was the last SU player to average 20 or more per game (21.4) back in 2004-05, and the feat’s also been accomplished by players like Carmelo Anthony, Preston Shumpert, John Wallace, Lawrence Moten and Billy Owens in recent-ish years. Going further back, the list gets a little longer and includes further greats. Still, it’s an elite club, and one that’s become significantly harder to join over the last 15 years.
Given his defensive abilities, overall shooting and importance to team, it’s not a stretch to claim that if Syracuse was currently sitting at 10-3 or something better, Hughes would be receiving significantly more hype and acknowledgement for his play so far. He still may get there without it. But at the very least, it’s sort of disappointing to see a stellar season like this one fly under the radar due to the team hitting a clear rough patch around him.
That, plus the rest of your Syracuse-related links below.
If you value hard work, dedication and persistence, or if you celebrate staying in school, this group is for you. Nwora, who flirted with the NBA last spring after earning third-team All-ACC honors, received the league’s 2019 Most Improved Player award. Hughes, already a productive defender, is among the frontrunners for the same honor in 2020, after dramatically upgrading both his ball-handling and perimeter shooting.
“For sure, sure, sure we are. There is no doubt we are,” she said before a New Year’s Eve practice. “Even though we maybe haven’t shown the best game yet, I feel like we are going to show it starting from now on. We’re just going to do better and better. I definitely think we have to make the tournament, we are going to make the tournament.”
Syracuse basketball guard Brycen Goodine broke his nose in practice earlier this week, head coach Jim Boeheim told syracuse.com’s Brent Axe during his weekly interview on ESPN Radio. Boeheim told Axe that Goodine will be fitted for a mask and will try to play through the injury.
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