No. 14 Syracuse Orange
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 7, 2016, issue of Sports Illustrated. Subscribe to the magazine here. Read scouting reports on every team in the top 20 here, and find the rest of our college basketball preview package here.
Andrew White III’s teammates call him Uncle Drew, a nod to Kyrie Irving’s graybeard alter ego in television commercials. White, 23, is ancient for a Division I star. He’s a graduate transfer who divided his previous four years between Kansas and Nebraska. In his fifth season and third conference, he’s showing coach Jim Boeheim what he’s learned along the way.
The 6' 7″ guard arrives an hour early for practice to foam-roll his muscles and carries a jug of water around campus to stay hydrated. He has also emerged as the Orange’s likely leading scorer, flashing a feathery three-point touch (41.2% last year) and the decision-making to thrive in its pick-and-roll-based offense. “He’s a pro,” says assistant Adrian Autry of White, who declared for the June draft after averaging 16.6 points for the Cornhuskers, then withdrew his name. “We really needed someone like him.”
White’s role includes a slot atop Syracuse’s 2–3 zone, where he’ll join a suffocating duo of similarly pterodactyl-limbed guards, 6' 5″ sophomore Frank Howard and 6' 6″ freshman Tyus Battle. The consensus No. 31 recruit, Battle is a gifted finisher who could become an insta-scorer off the bench à la Dion Waiters in 2010–11 and ’11–12. For now he’s learning the college game from Uncle Drew, who is fitting in as if he has been around forever.
X-Factor: Sophomore center Paschal Chukwu
Paschal Chukwu provides an intriguing option at center, as his 7' 8″ wingspan will allow the Orange to gamble and trap more on the wings. He can also erase or alter shots when opponents penetrate the zone.
Coach’s Take: Jim Boeheim
“Our defense was good last year but we didn’t have a shot-blocker and now we really have one [in Paschal Chukwu]. That’s really the difference in our team from last year – and the depth. More depth, more ability to get out and try to pressure people, try to run a little bit more. We were pretty half-court last year. We had to really play a different way and we don’t really like to play that way. We’ll be more able to get out and run. We’re quicker. We’ve got 10 guys instead of six. It’s hard to press [with six players] and if you press you can get into the running game a bit sooner. Shots will come a little bit faster, there will be more possessions. We just are able to pressure a little bit more. And we’re bigger. All of that adds up to being able to play a little bit faster. It’s something we’re talking about. And we’re getting better at it.”
Projected Depth Chart
|Andrew White III||Sr||SF||13.8||5.8||0.9||111.5||23%||71%|
Projected ACC Standings
|Conference Rank||Team||Proj. Conf. Record||’15-16 Conf. Record|