Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
With Carter-Williams Likely Headed to NBA Lottery, Tyler Ennis Set to Become Starting Point Guard at Cuse
NEWARK, N.J. — Syracuse will likely have a new starting point guard when it heads to a new league next year.
Sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams is widely considered to be a lottery pick in a weak NBA Draft this year, which would pave the way for St. Benedict’s Prep senior guard Tyler Ennis to take over the starting job next season when the Orange leave the Big East for the ACC.
“You know, of course [the NBA] has been my dream since I was a kid, but like I said before I’m just trying to focus on this season,” Carter-Williams said after going for 14 points on 3-of-10 shooting, 9 rebounds and 3 assists as No. 6 Syracuse held off Seton Hall, 76-65, Saturday at the Prudential Center.
Ten NBA personnel requested credentials to the game, with many on hand to watch Carter-Williams, who is currently projected as the No. 10 pick in the draft by DraftExpress.com.
One NBA GM told SNY.tv that Carter-Williams is one of three point guards, along with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart and Michigan’s Trey Burke, who will be the first point guard taken, “but [Carter-Williams] is definitely in the lottery.”
The GM said he thinks the 6-foot-5 Carter has “size for the position and play-making ability,” but added that he’s a “non-shooter” with “poor body language” who “can’t finish at the rim through contact.”
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim seemed to concur on that last point when he pointed out that opposing defenses were forcing Carter-Williams to shoot.
“They’re really playing him since the league started, they’ve been making him shoot,” Boeheim said. “That’s really what they’re doing. They’re making him go to the basket, they’re not coming off to help. They’re just not.
“He’s gotta be able to finish if they’re not going to respect his offense,” Boeheim said. “He’s gotta find that.”
Still, the way the system is set up, players like Carter-Williams have to leave early to get the guaranteed money, especially since the 2013 Draft will be so much weaker than the one in 2014.
“I try not to think about it because I think all my attention deserves to go to my teammates but it’s nice to see that they [the scouts] are out there watching,” Carter-Williams said.
Should he opt to leave, that would pave the way for the 6-2 Ennis to become the starting point guard once the Orange move to the ACC.
Ennis was left off the McDonald’s All-American roster Thursday, and responded by scoring a school-record 53 points that night.
But Boeheim said he shouldn’t worry about it going forward.
The Syracuse coach pointed out that several of his best players weren’t McDonald’s All-Americans, including Lawrence Moten, the Big East’s all-time leading scorer, Hakim Warrick, Sherman Douglas and Brandon Triche.
“Yeah, Brandon Triche is pretty good, he didn’t make it,” Boeheim said. “Hakim Warrick didn’t make it, he made All-American. I’ve had about six guys make All-American that didn’t make the McDonald’s Game. And I’ve seen other guys that made the McDonald’s Game that didn’t make all-conference in their conferences.
“It’s something that [Ennis] he’s disappointed, but he’s in the Jordan Game and he’s a tremendous player.”
Can he come in and start next year if Carter-Williams is gone?
“He has to, he has to,” Boeheim said. “He has to.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.