Depth and scoring are almost always the biggest question marks for Syracuse basketball. Those concerns come with the nature of being an Orange fan.
Sunday, those concerns decreased.
Syracuse addressed its depth and scoring issues in a huge way by winning the Andrew White sweepstakes. Nebraska’s fifth-year graduate transfer will play his final season of college basketball with the Orange according to Syracuse.com.
Excited to join Syracuse Basketball???????? pic.twitter.com/Idiri7bm6H
— Andrew J. White III (@AndrewWhite03) August 28, 2016
The 6-foot-7 wing chose Syracuse over hometown Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond. White also visited Miami and Michigan State.
White began his college career at Kansas, but then transferred to Nebraska after he played just a handful of minutes in his freshman and sophomore seasons. In his junior season for the Cornhuskers, White averaged 16.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He led Nebraska in both points and rebounds.
The best part about this transfer from both White’s and Syracuse’s perspective: He will be able to play immediately. NCAA rules allow graduated players with a year of remaining eligibility to transfer and not sit out a year.
White originally entered the NBA Draft this past spring, but he took advantage of the new rules there too, withdrawing his name prior to the deadline in order to return to school.
More than likely, White will try to use Syracuse’s basketball brand, which is much wider than Nebraska’s, to elevate his draft stock next year. Syracuse usually likes three- or four-year players, but that should be just fine with the Orange faithful.
With Malachi Richardson leaving early, there was concern that the Orange wouldn’t have much depth or scoring. The Orange lost last season’s top three scorers.
However, with three incoming freshmen and three transfers, Syracuse suddenly has a legitimate 10-man rotation. The last time Syracuse had this much depth, the Orange went 34-3 and advanced to the Elite Eight in 2012.
About two months ago, it appeared the team would have only seven scholarship players, but then Colorado State graduate transfer guard John Gillon and freshman forward Taurean Thompson both chose Syracuse. The Orange also have incoming freshmen (shooting guard) Tyus Battle and (small forward) Matthew Moyer. Furthermore, transfer Paschal Chukwu, a sophomore center from Providence, sat out last season and is ready to play in 2016-’17.
There will certainly be a “feeling out” process for both the players and coaching staff; only four of those 10 players appeared in a game for the Orange a year ago. However, the importance of adding a tenth man, one who already has D-I experience as a starter, cannot be overstated. At 6-foot-7, White could be another tall guard like Michael-Carter Williams was a few years ago. Another option: He could play forward alongside Tyler Roberson and Tyler Lydon.
No matter where he plays, White’s wingspan is a natural fit in the 2-3 zone.
White also balances out Syracuse’s lineup, which is now filled with both young and experienced players. Roberson, Coleman, Gillon and White will all be playing their final college basketball seasons while Battle, Moyer and Thompson are just beginning. Lydon, Chukwu and Franklin Howard will be in their second college seasons.
Where White could contribute the most is on the perimeter. He made 41.2 percent of his 3-point attempts last season at Nebraska. White hit more 3-pointers in fewer attempts than Richardson, whose scoring must be replaced.
Expectations are high in upstate New York after last season’s surprise Final Four trip. Although it’s too bad he will play only one season, White will certainly help ensure those expectations are met in 2016-’17.