When Ontario native Tyler Ennis announced his commitment to play college hoops at Syracuse, Jim Boeheim instantly bolstered his guard depth for 2013 and beyond.
How exactly will Ennis impact the Orange when he arrives for the 2013-14 season?
The 6’3″ St. Benedict’s product will be a superb passer and facilitator in college from day one. But how do we know this, and what makes him such a great distributor?
He’s a polished passer whose court vision, timing and passing methods are miles ahead of his high school counterparts in New Jersey. From the perimeter, Ennis hits cutters with pinpoint accuracy. When he gets in the lane, he’s even more dangerous. Among the trees, he maintains his composure and can dish with either hand.
The key to his exceptional passing and scoring ability is his body control. Even though his ball-handling isn’t elite, he stays balanced while mixing in spin moves, hesitations and pump fakes.
In Syracuse’s offense, the guards are allowed plenty of freedom. Ennis will thrive both on the fast break and in the half-court setting.
His ability to dribble efficiently with either hand and finish fluidly with his off-hand will make him a constant threat. Film shows that he can score from deep, mid-range, and get all the way to the bucket when he needs to. In fact, he could turn out to be a more dangerous scorer than Scoop Jardine or Brandon Triche.
Speaking of Triche, Ennis will be arriving the summer after Triche graduates. This should be an opportunity for him to step right in and share the backcourt with Michael-Carter Williams and Trevor Cooney.
Williams and Ennis are both point guards, but Carter-Williams’ size and Ennis’ skills will allow them to fulfill the roles of both the 1 and 2 guards.
Ennis prides himself on his versatility and ability to be a combo guard. He explained to CBSSports.com why his multifaceted talents make him stand out:
“I’ve watched some point guards who can only score and some who can only pass,” he said. “I think my ability to do both while winning and thinking the game makes me the best.”
Unless he puts on some serious muscle during his senior year, Ennis will get pushed around a little as a freshman. He’s about 180 pounds now, but once he hits 190-195 by his sophomore season, he’ll be a much more effective driver and defender.
Let’s project his freshman-year statistics for the 2013-14 season:
Minutes per game: 20
Points per game: 5.8
Assists per game: 3.0
Rebounds per game: 2.0
Steals per game: 0.6
Blocks per game: 0.2
Field-goals: 44 percent
Three-pointers: 38 percent
Free-throws: 77 percent
The timing of his arrival will allow him to compete for substantial playing time as a freshman. His senior year at St. Benedict’s and Orange training camp in 2013 will dictate exactly how much he gets.
What we know for sure is that Syracuse will be adding another playmaker to its arsenal a year from now.