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Syracuse men’s basketball: Marek Dolezaj foregoes extra year of eligibility to go pro

The Slovakian’s Orange career comes to a close

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-NC State Syracuse Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team had a great end to the 2020-21 season, due in large part to the play of Marek Dolezaj. The forward proved himself to be a versatile player for the Orange in his four-year career. There was a chance that Dolezaj could return to Syracuse to use an extra year of eligibility. However, he announced on his Twitter page that he’ll look to play professional basketball, ending his Syracuse career.

Dolezaj flipped between the starting lineup and the bench throughout his first two years at Syracuse, but became a crucial starter in his final two seasons with the Orange. The pizza-loving Slovakian may not have been the most physical presence in the ACC, but his hustle, passing ability, and high basketball IQ made him a fan-favorite.

Syracuse needed Dolezaj more than ever during the 2020-21 season as despite his height and weight disadvantage, he was Jim Boeheim’s first-choice center after Bourama Sidibe’s injury. His passing also continued to flourish, turning into the primary Orange ball-handler for some games down the stretch.

Without Dolezaj, Syracuse loses valuable experience on the wings of the zone, especially if Quincy Guerrier and Alan Griffin don’t return to the Orange. The projected wing starters would be Villanova transfer Cole Swider and freshman Benny Williams. No matter what the case, Syracuse faces the real possibility that the team goes into next season with two new wing starters who need to learn the zone quickly.

Dolezaj joins John Bol Ajak, Robert Braswell, Kadary Richmond (Seton Hall), and Woody Newton as the confirmed leavers from Syracuse. Guerrier could join them if he decides to keep his name in the draft. Swider and Williams as mentioned above are the only frontcourt newcomers with centers Bourama Sidibe and Jesse Edwards returning to the Orange. The returning backcourt starters in Joe Girard and Buddy Boeheim are joined by Marquette transfer and Syracuse native Symir Torrence.