While we wait on word about whether or not Andrew White is going to be wearing Orange, let’s talk a little about someone we know will be suiting up for Syracuse in 2016-17. Most of the attention at guard is being paid to new graduate transfer John Gillon and freshman Tyus Battle, but don’t count out Frank Howard just yet.
The 6-foot-4 sophomore point guard started showing flashes of being a terrific playmaker as the year went on last season. Last year, he averaged just 10.5 minutes per game, contributing 1.6 points and 1.8 assists per game. Howard hit just 28.6% of his shots, including just 10% from three point range.
So with those numbers in mind, it might seem strange to point to Howard as a player who could potentially disrupt the perceived guard rotation this year. However, that’s exactly what could happen. The buzz has been growing about Howard this offseason, from members of Boeheim’s Army, to additional reports that have been fed my way about Frank’s play both in pickup games at SU and in some summer league action. From what I’ve been told, he’s look dominant at times in both venues.
It was never any secret that Howard was going to have some growing pains as a true freshman last year. In truth, with a more perfect rotation he likely could have been a redshirt candidate. But that’s not how things played out, and Howard was forced into action probably a little before he was ready. That said, it was easy to see some serious growth going on with Howard last year. No, he never got above five points in a game, but scoring isn’t really what he was recruited for.
Instead, it was Howard’s playmaking ability that became evident the more comfortable he got in the college game. He dished out six assists against both Georgia Tech and Louisville, and had five points, three assists, and two steals in a tournament win over Gonzaga. The potential to become a legitimate, playmaking point guard is obviously there. The question now is how much of a chance he’ll have to show it off and expand his game.
Howard has always had excellent court vision, and his handle has been steadily improving. It was good to begin with, but it’s getting tighter as he becomes more of an all-around point guard. Remember, Howard played off the ball for much of his high school career, and is still really learning how to be a floor general.
Make no mistake, Gillon and Battle are still likely to start in the backcourt for Syracuse this year. But the more quickly Howard comes along, the better it will be for Syracuse. He provides the Orange another strong option at point guard, in addition to a long, athletic presence at the top of the 2-3 zone. Don’t be surprised to see Howard take a big jump forward this season and be a key contributor on a team that’s poised to surprise a lot of people.