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.
Freshmen Focus: Ennis’ High School Coach Says He’s Ready for NBA Now
By BRIAN FITZSIMMONS
Special to ZAGSBLOGUNION, N.J. – St. Benedict’s Prep coach Mark Taylor always knew Tyler Ennis would thrive at Syracuse.
But after seeing his former point guard take the country by storm as a freshman, Taylor now wonders how long Ennis will stay with the second-ranked Orange before making a leap to the NBA.
“We always talked about it, and we always said two years. We thought he’d stay for two, but it’s too big a contract; he’s a lottery pick,” he told SNY.tv. “I would tell him to go, but that’s his choice.”
Even though the upcoming draft could include Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart, Dante Exum, Joel Embiid and Aaron Gordon, among many other top-flight prospects, Taylor believes Ennis can contribute to an NBA team right away.
“I don’t think [the draft’s potential depth] matters,” said Taylor, who also mentioned Ennis could be better than former Syracuse star and Philadelphia 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams. “He’s the best guard in the country. Somebody’s going to take him, I would think, in the top 10-12 picks.”
DraftExpress.com predicts Ennis will be selected No. 21 overall in 2015, while NBADraft.net has him slated No. 15 in June’s draft.
Stationed approximately 250 miles away from Syracuse, Taylor – who previously coachedJason Williams and Andrew Bynum at St. Joseph in Metuchen, N.J. — has kept a close eye on Ennis and isn’t surprised as his overwhelming success.
“No, not at all,” Taylor said. “We said last year that he was the best guard in the country and everywhere we went, he proved it. We played everybody last year. There wasn’t a guard better when we were at the (Jordan Brand Classic). He was best guard in that game. He wasn’t getting the respect he was due, but everybody’s seeing it now.”
While Ennis is pacing the Orange, national powerhouse St. Benedict’s has reloaded after losing several key players to graduation and transfers. The Gray Bees improved to 9-2 overall by cruising past Trenton Catholic and Syracuse commit Malachi Richardson, 69-53, in the SFIC Festival at Kean University on Sunday.
“The biggest thing we’re missing is his ability to facilitate the game and control tempo; not only that, but control the players on his team to make sure everyone’s involved,” said Taylor, when asked what his team misses most about the Toronto native. “Another thing is, you can’t speed him up. He plays at his pace all the time and you cannot get him off that. That’s something you miss on any level.”
In his senior season at St. Benedict’s, Ennis averaged a shade over 20 points, six assists and five rebounds for the Gray Bees, who finished No. 2 in the final USA Today poll after falling in the national championship game to Montverde Academy (Fla.).
As a junior, he averaged 15.2 points, 7.1 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 steals en route to winning the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year award in 2011-12.
Ennis has since made a smooth transition to the college game, and now is the catalyst for what could be a historical year.
Duke and North Carolina appear to be the only teams standing in the way of Syracuse becoming just the second team ever to win a power conference during its first year in the league.
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.