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Syracuse men’s basketball 22-23 roster preview: Benny Williams

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Not the debut many expected but can he be the next forward to take a leap in year 2?

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

We’re going to spend some time looking ahead to the 2022-23 Syracuse Orange men’s basketball roster. We’ll look at the players that we anticipate will be returning as well as the incoming recruits. Starting things off is forward Benny Williams.

Season Recap

A five-star recruit and the only member of the 2021 class there were high expectations for Williams among Orange fans. The 6’8” forward out of IMG Academy was used off the bench in all of his 29 appearances this year. Williams struggled to make an impact on the offensive end as poor shooting plagued his first year for Syracuse.

Benny averaged 1.9 points per game shooting 33.9% from the field and 61.9% from the foul line. He was only 1 of 11 on three-point attempts and as MikeWill pointed out during the year Benny settled for a lot of mid-range jumpers instead of taking the ball strong to the rim.

After playing 24 minutes at Wake Forest, Benny hit his roughest stretch. Over the next 12 games he shot 1-14 from the field with only six rebounds, two assists and one steal so he was largely ineffective. Then came the game which should give Syracuse fans hope for next season.

With the Orange down big early against Duke, Benny saw 30 minutes off the bench. He was 5-7 from the field, 4-4 from the line and added 6 rebounds. He was aggressive and decisive and showcased his athletic ability against the ACC’s top team

This was the type of play Williams didn’t show often enough during his rookie campaign. Unfortunately an injury suffered at North Carolina in the next game ended his season early and kept him from seeing time in the ACC Tournament.

Next steps

We know that a number of Syracuse forwards have made a leap between their first and second years on campus. Understanding the system and what Jim Boeheim expects has led to these players being more comfortable on the court and able to show what they bring. Benny needs to let the game come to him without being too passive.

Defense and rebounding are going to be the way he sees minutes next year as the departure of Jimmy Boeheim and Cole Swider opens a path to starting for Williams. While he needs to work on his outside shot, it’s important for Benny to not fall in love with that part of the game. With the expected line-up next year, Willams can find gaps along the baseline as teams focus on Jesse Edwards and Joe Girard. If Benny can become a player who finishes at the rim and off the offensive glass, he can become a solid piece of Syracuse’s rebuild.

Next year’s squad looks to be much more athletic and versatile so a player with Williams’ skill set can allow the Orange to use their defense to fuel the offense. Hopefully his rehab schedule will see him back on the Melo Center floor sooner than later this summer.