After each Syracuse Orange basketball season, we find ourselves asking a lot of the same questions. In a normal offseason, the headlining question typically surrounds Jim Boeheim and his future.
That’s been asked and answered.
We then pivot to who’s staying, who’s leaving and who will be the newcomers.
Here are my five biggest questions facing Syracuse basketball as we head into the offseason:
Will Judah Mintz return for his sophomore season?
Last night, Mintz announced that he is declaring for the 2023 NBA Draft but will maintain his college eligibility.
Beyond blessed ➕ #AGTG #dontoverthinkit pic.twitter.com/mSefrxnn3p— Judah Mintz (@Jmintz10) March 20, 2023
Judah came into the season as the top-ranked recruit in a six-man class. He finished second on the Orange in scoring with 16.3 points per game and averaged a team-high 4.6 assists. He had a career-high 24 points twice this season, and found himself in double-figures in 28-of-32 games. He started all 32 games.
As the season went on, despite the team’s struggles, Mintz shined. His ability to get into the lane and finish at the rim was impressive, complimented by an improved 3-point shot at the end of the year only fed the NBA chatter.
According to Jonathan Givony of ESPN, Mintz is projected as a second-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft. He’s the 65th-best player available and 18th-best shooting guard, per Givony. In what is likely a way-too-early 2024 NBA mock draft, Givony projects Mintz as a first-round pick.
Something that we’ve never been able to discuss in the past, but can now, is NIL. I don’t think we’ll see as many players force a move to the next level like we have in the past. With uncertainties looming about where Mintz would potentially end up, he could receive an NIL deal with guaranteed money to stay at Syracuse for another season. In addition, he could play his way into the first round.
That would seem like a win-win, no?
Will Jesse Edwards return?
The value Jesse Edwards brings to Syracuse is absolute. The 6-foot-11 center is a sound big man with potential through the roof. Having been in the SU system for four years, Edwards is a leader and understands what the expectations are.
Speaking on potential, we saw what Jesse is capable of. The final game of the regular season against Wake Forest, Edwards went off for 27 points and 20 rebounds in the win. Now pair him up with JJ and, hopefully, Judah — that’s a fun three-headed monster.
Edwards averaged a double-double this season with 14.5 points and 10.3 rebounds in just under 33 minutes per game.
Jesse isn’t projected to be drafted, but will have the opportunity to play overseas and make money. As an international student, navigating NIL opportunities is trickier for Jesse, which could influence his decision.
What will Joe Girard do?
Syracuse fans have a love-hate relationship with Girard, who has averaged just over 13 points per game in his four-year career at SU. Girard has one year of eligibility remaining if he chooses to use it. Coming out of high school, Girard was known as a sharp-shooter, which we’ve seen at times — but there’s been a lack of overall consistency. Over the last four years, he’s shot under 40% from deep and under 34% in two of those years.
Despite the struggles, Girard would be an asset on this team next year. With the addition of five-star transfer JJ Starling, who didn’t commit to SU to come off the bench, Girard would likely be moved to a sixth-man role (unless Judah stays in the draft). In what would be his fifth-year, Girard would bring leadership to, what will still be, a young team.
Who will Adrian Autry hire as his third assistant?
The first question Autry was asked at his introductory press conference was about his coaching staff and who would be his next assistant. In the past, Jim Boeheim rarely hired outside of the Syracuse family. Autry, it appears, will do so on his first hire.
Brenden Straughn, an assistant coach at George Washington, has been linked to Autry, and the open position, on a few occasions.
Samurai_Hoops on Twitter was first to link Straughn to Syracuse. Mike Waters of Syracuse.com, citing sources, confirmed that Autry was “zeroing in” on Straughn.
Samurai Sources tell The Dojo…— Samurai Hoops (@samurai_hoops) March 16, 2023
Syracuse HC Red Autry is closing in on hiring George Washington AC Brenden Straughn to complete his staff…#StayTuned
What would Syracuse be getting in Brenden Straughn? Strong recruiting ties to the DMV, an area that breeds high-level basketball players.
In the past, Adrian Autry has recruited the DMV. Now, as head coach, he’ll be spread out more and won’t have the luxury of focusing on a certain area.
Straughn, who joined the George Washington staff in April 2022, was previously an assistant at Loyola-Maryland. Prior to Loyola, he was an assistant with the AAU program Team Takeover from 2013-18.
During his time with Team Takeover, Straughn coached over 70 D-1 players and five McDonald’s All-Americans.
It’s worth noting that Straughn helped recruit Autry’s son, Trey, to play basketball at GW.
Straughn graduated from Hood College in 2012, where he was a four-year starter and three-time team captain for the Blazers. At the time of his graduation, he ranked among the program’s all-time top 10 in scoring and was second in assists and steals.
Is Benny Williams coming back?
Benny Williams, a former high four-star prospect, probably didn’t see his college career starting out the way it did. Accompanied by three transfers — Cole Swider, Jimmy Boeheim and Symir Torrence — Williams joined a crowded front-court as a freshman.
As a freshman, Benny played just under 11 minutes a game and averaged less than two points and two rebounds. As a borderline five-star prospect, depending on which recruiting site you look at, I’m sure Williams expected more opportunity and success early on.
Fast-forward to this season, Benny saw a spike in minutes to over 22 per game. He found himself in double-figures in ten games and had three double-doubles. He started to shoot it better later on in the season, finishing just under 40% from deep on the year.
We started to see Benny become the player I think most of us anticipated, and he’ll only continue to grow. In a run-and-gun style that Autry wants to emphasize, I think we’ll see Benny’s athleticism put him in a position to be more successful and aggressive.
I expect Benny to come back for his junior campaign and be a major contributor.
What are other questions you have around the Orange this offseason?