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Syracuse men’s basketball player profile: Benny Williams

How do you follow high expectations? HIGHER EXPECTATIONS!!

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to another profile on the scholarship players of the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team. If you’ve missed any of the ones we’ve done so far, you can check them out here. We continue today with one of the most intriguing players for the Orange in Benny Williams.

As the sole recruit of the class of 2021, Williams came to Central New York with high expectations. Being a consensus top-30 recruit means that fans are going to expect a lot from you immediately. However, Williams didn’t provide much of an impact on the floor in the limited time that he got. He settled for mid-range jumpers and didn’t provide the defending and rebounding boost that Coach Boeheim would’ve liked off the bench. Williams played single-digit minutes in 11 ACC games and his season was cut short by injury before the Orange reached March.

The expectations for Williams might be higher now in his sophomore year. The Maryland native is expected now to be in the starting lineup and should get the minutes that fans desired him to get last season. Consistent playing time should see Williams improve greatly on both ends of the court. Now firmly in the spotlight, the highly touted recruit could be the key to more Orange victories this season.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Auburn Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Forward

Class: Sophomore

Vitals: 6-foot-8, 208 lbs.

Stats: 29 games played, 0 starts, 11.5 mins/game, 1.9 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 33.9 FG%

Strengths/Weaknesses: Williams has the raw athleticism that makes him an effective option at the bottom of the zone. A naturally long wingspan and athletic build means he can reach for balls on the perimeter while providing support in the rebound game. When he gets aggressive, it’s hard to stop him on offense as he crashes towards the basket.

Williams might’ve hung around Joe Girard, Buddy Boeheim and Cole Swider too much last season as he settled for a lot of ill-advised mid-range jumpers on offense. He suffered from the same rotational problems that plagued Swider and Jimmy Boeheim and didn’t get the playing time necessary to be consistent. He should get that playing time this season, but the timidity he showed at times near the rim on both sides of the court needs to fade.

Ceiling: Williams provides the Orange with a second scoring option on the inside to take the pressure off Jess Edwards. He returns the favor on defense as a backup rebounder for Edwards, who doesn’t need to scramble and fight for every loose ball.

Floor: Williams tries too many jump shots and a couple of lazy defensive rotations means he gets pulled early and often from games. Think Alan Griffin during the 2021 NCAA tournament. That could happen, especially with the depth pieces Coach Boeheim seems eager to try on the bench.