While we continue to wait on an announcement from Nebraska graduate transfer Andrew White, and start looking ahead at some prospects in the 2017 recruiting class (particularly at the point guard position), it’s easy to forget about John Gillon. But the 6-foot guard from Houston, a graduate transfer like White, is on campus already and should have a major impact on the Orange in 2016-17.
Believe it or not, the hardest task Jim Boeheim may have this winter – provided the Orange do ultimately land White – isn’t going to be sorting through the crowded front court rotation, but determining not just the minutes but “order of appearance” (so to speak) among the guards. In Gillon, Boeheim has an experienced, dynamic athlete who can score from just about anywhere on the floor.
And keeping him off the floor is going to be extremely difficult.
Obviously, when a player transfers for a fifth year, and is immediately eligible, it’s typically for a starting role. There’s a very good chance Gillon will wind up being the team’s starting point guard, too, though the addition of White could possibly throw a wrench into things for Boeheim. After all, if you add White – a 6-foot-7 swingman who’s probably best suited to play small forward – how does that impact the rest of the rotation?
There are a couple things I’m absolutely sure of when it comes to the Syracuse lineup in the upcoming season. The first is that, no matter what, Tyus Battle will be in the starting five. I would be positively floored were this not the case. Now, what position he plays remains to be seen.
Tyler Roberson and Dajuan Coleman have both been starters for the majority of their careers, and Jim Boeheim isn’t typically the kind of coach who will remove a senior, incumbent starter from the first five. As with Battle, I’d be very surprised if Roberson and Coleman wind up coming off the bench.
And perhaps the team’s best all-around player, Tyler Lydon, is a probable first round pick in the NBA Draft next year. Boeheim’s already gone on record saying he thinks his 6-foot-9 sophomore is gone after this season. While I think that Lydon is both smart enough and mentally tough enough to understand that the best thing for the team may be his coming off the bench as a super sixth man, I also highly doubt that happens.
That’s four starting roles that are more than likely spoken for, out of five. I haven’t even touched on Paschal Chukwu or Frank Howard, both of whom could play spoilers when it comes to the starting rotation. And obviously, when it comes to a Boeheim coached team, who starts rarely matters. It’s all about who finishes. When crunch time rolls around, you can bet your ass that Lydon and Battle will be on the floor. The rest is a little more uncertain.
And that brings us back to John Gillon. The point guard averaged better than 13 points per game last year, and as I mentioned, can fill it up from all over the court. He’s got exceptional quickness and very deep range, which makes him a potentially lethal offensive threat. He’s undersized but his combination of scoring prowess and athleticism, combined with his 6-foot frame, could wind up having Syracuse fans thinking of Jonny Flynn.
Check out the highlights above, and you’ll see a highly talented offensive player who can light it up from deep and get into the lane and finish. He’s definitely a scoring point guard, but does a nice job of creating for his teammates. The way I see it, there are two versions of the starting lineup that make the most sense, based on what I’ve posted above, and both are dependent on whether Andrew White decides to play for the Orange.
If White chooses Syracuse (which, from what I’ve been told, is the likely scenario), then my best guess at a starting five is Battle at the point, White at the two, Lydon at the three, Roberson at the four, and Coleman at center. Should White ultimately opt against coming to Syracuse, you’re probably looking at Gillon at the point, Battle at the two, Lydon at the three, Roberson at the four, and Coleman at the five.
White’s decision will drive a lot of what the rotation winds up looking like, but even if Gillon isn’t in the starting five I’m of the firm belief that he’ll be one of the final five on the court. He’s a ball handler and a shooter, and can knock down his free throws. When crunch time rolls around, even if White is wearing orange, I’d expect both fifth year seniors to be on the floor alongside Lydon and Battle.
The roster is currently only nine players deep with a good chance of growing to 10, and it’ll be one of the deepest and most talented nine or 10 player rotations Jim Boeheim has ever had. Gillon will be a big part of the equation.
This is a good problem to have, when you get down to it. If you’ve got a guard who can shoot nearly 40% from deep, better than 80% from the free throw line, and has a track record of being a proven scorer at the D1 level and whether or not he winds up starting is in question, that means you’re pretty damn loaded.
And this is an Orange roster that has a chance to be very freaking loaded. Whether he winds up starting or being the first player off the bench, much of Syracuse’s success this season will ride on John Gillon’s ability to create for himself and his teammates on offense.