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.
Season Comes to An End for Ennis, NBA People Say He’s Ready
BUFFALO — The ball left Tyler Ennis’s hand and seemed right on line for a game-winning 3-pointer….until it hit the back iron and bounced out.
Ennis had made so many clutch baskets for Syracuse all season, and in this game, too, he carried them to the brink of a dramatic victory, scoring their last 11 points of the game. But the freshman from Brampton, Ontario missed the final two jumpers of his freshman season — a 15-footer that would’ve put the Orange ahead and a 3-point attempt that might’ve won it — and the Orange ended their season suddenly and stunningly, falling to Dayton, 55-53, in a second-round South Region game at First Niagara Center.
“It felt good when it left my hands,” Ennis said quietly in a corner of the Syracuse locker room of the 3-point shot.
The former St. Benedict’s Prep star said he didn’t consider driving to the basket the way he had en route to much of his game-high 19 points on 7-for-21 shooting.
“I thought they were spacing off me a little bit and I thought I had a good shot,” he said.
With his emotions still raw after playing what could be his final college game in front of a slew of family and friends, Ennis was asked the predictable question about his future (by another reporter) and gave the predictable answer.
“I haven’t thought about it all,” he said. “I haven’t thought about it.”
Chad Ford has Ennis at No. 9 in his Mock Draft, and DraftExpress.com has him at No. 14.
“He has a great tempo on offense and is totally under control,” one veteran NBA scout told SNY.tv after Syracuse lost. “He’s smart, has a decent skill set. Needs to get stronger. Clutch player. Will have a big adjustment on the defensive end.”
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told SNY.tv on Friday that if a player is projected to go in the Top 10 or so, he has a good shot of sticking in the NBA.
Syracuse sophomore Jerami Grant, who managed just 4 points on 2-for-3 shooting, is projected at No. 16 by Chad Ford and No. 21 by DraftExpress.com.
“You gotta be in the top seven, eight, 10 picks to make sure you’re going to be playing in the NBA,” Boeheim said.
Leo Rautins, the Toronto Raptors TV analyst and a fellow Canadian, believes Ennis is more than ready for the NBA.
“Oh, yeah, he’s ready and I’ve talked to enough NBA people where he’s anywhere from as high as 6, maybe even higher to a 13,” Rautins told SNY.tv before Syracuse lost. “I’ve talked to enough poeple to where if he crept up higher, it wouldn’t surpise me at all because they just see his value and I think they see the same thing that he can run a team.
“He’s got this incredible, everybody uses the word pace. He goes at his pace. You want to speed him up, it’s not going to work. You want to slow him down, it’s not going to work. He plays the way he wants to play and tha’s really unusual.”
Rautins said the NBA’s new relaxed defensive rules should benefit a guy like Ennis on the perimeter.
“The league is not as physical as it used to be, especially on the perimeter guys,” Rautins said. “The one thing you can say is, OK needs to get stronger, that’s not an issue. The way he handles the ball, he’s poised, the way he controls the game, I haven’t seen a guy come into college basketball in a long, long time that can play that way and so I don’t see any issue of it it translating.
“But he’s also shown that he can score. When he needs to score, he scores. The fact that he facilitates more than that, that’s just his game.”
If Ennis and fellow Canadians Andrew Wiggins, the projected No. 1 pick, and Michigan’s Nik Stauskas all go, Canada could have three first-round picks.
“It’s phenomenal,” Rautins said. “If you took at the guys in this draft, there could be as many as eight [Canadian] guys in the first two rounds. ”
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.