After originally stating he planned on coming back for his sophomore season after tearing his ACL in January, it appears that Syracuse University freshman Chris McCullough is now headed to the NBA, according to a report by the website RealGM.com. This is bad news for Syracuse if true, and could impact the team in more ways than you might originally think.
McCullough averaged 9.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game last year, though he struggled pretty mightily once the Orange got into ACC play. The 6-foot-10 forward oozes athleticism and potential, but it became abundantly clear that, from a physical standpoint, he simply was not strong enough to compete against more mature players. And now, it appears he’s going to forego the rest of his collegiate career anyway, perhaps fearful of what would happen should he suffer a setback with his rehab. The risk of another injury may ultimately be what’s driving McCullough to cash in now, while he still can. Obviously that’s just speculation, but it makes sense. Another injury and NBA teams may decide to stay away from him for good.
Obviously, Syracuse fans are going to be disappointed in McCullough’s decision, if it turns out to be true. But fans should still wish him the best, and for the love of Cthulhu, please refrain from going on any personal attacks on social media. It’s not a good look, you guys.
Right now, Orange fans should be concerned about the way McCullough leaving early could potentially impact Syracuse not just from an on court perspective – where he was expected to start at power forward once his knee was fully healed – but also from a scholarship perspective.
Right now, Syracuse has 11 scholarship players heading into 2015-2016 (including McCullough). The entire reason the staff is still able to pursue Thomas Bryant is because preexisting scholarships have pushed us over the 10 scholarship limit as part of the NCAA sanctions. However, if McCullough goes pro, that puts the Orange back down to 10 scholarships on the nose. At this point, the question has to be asked: if Syracuse is at 10 scholarships, does the program have to begin its scholarship reductions?
In essence, it appears that McCullough’s decision to declare at this time could possibly prohibit Syracuse from its continued pursuit of Thomas Bryant, or potential fifth year transfers – like Villanova guard Dylan Ennis, the older brother of Tyler, who will seek to transfer and become immediately eligible next season – for next year’s roster.
At the end of the day, though, please remember not to act with bitterness. It’s Chris McCullough’s life, not yours. I do wish he’d waited until after Thomas Bryant made his decision, just in case, though.