Amidst the coaching and roster turnover among the Syracuse Orange, a little stability came today. Forward Benny Williams is returning to Central New York for a third season, according to a report from Syracuse.com’s Donna Ditota.
Benny Williams is coming back to Syracuse for his junior year.— Donna Ditota (@DonnaDitota1) March 29, 2023
He will be a significant part of the Orange's 2023-24 season.https://t.co/0PTTdiGVaJ
As Ditota points out, Williams was recruited to Syracuse by Adrian Autry, who is now Syracuse’s new head coach following the retirement of Jim Boeheim. Autry spent most of his recruiting time as an assistant head coach focusing on the DMV area, where Williams is from.
Williams’ Orange career has been plagued by inconsistency. There was a lot of hype surrounding him as Syracuse’s only recruit in the class of 2021. That was largely due to his high four-star rating from most outlets and a five-star rating from Rivals. As such, some fans expected him to have the same impact that recent star recruits had on the Orange. However, Williams only saw the floor for 11.5 minutes per game his freshman year, averaging 1.9 points per game.
While Williams started his sophomore year in the starting lineup, a stretch of inconsistent performances saw him lose his position amongst the starting five to Maliq Brown for six games. While he increased his point total to 7.2 points per game, some fans expected him to take a bigger jump from his freshman to sophomore year.
Despite all of that, it’s not uncommon for Syracuse players to take big strides in their performance and impact as time goes on. Most recently, Jesse Edwards and Marek Dolezaj saw their numbers dramatically increase between their sophomore and junior seasons. Both increased their points pre game by at least six and their rebounds per game by at least three. It’s not out of the question that Williams could do the same.
The caveat to the last point is that Edwards and Dolezaj perhaps got aided in that jump by getting inserted into the starting lineup in their junior seasons, whereas Williams has already been a started. That adds to the argument that some fans have that Williams should’ve already made that big jump in production since he was a starter last season.
Whatever the case may be for Williams, he at least provides some stability in Syracuse’s roster. The Orange backcourt is a huge question mark right now with Symir Torrence and Joe Girard in the transfer portal. With Judah Mintz and Girard also feeling out the NBA draft process, Syracuse may look to move some frontcourt members such as Chris Bell, Justin Taylor or Quadir Copeland to guard.
Keeping Williams at least ensures that there’s a familiar face in the forwards room.