Believe it or not, there’s a strong possibility that the Andrew White graduate transfer saga could be coming to an end in the very near future. As in, possibly even today. I wrote this morning about what the rotation might look like, in particular how it would impact Tyler Lydon. But exactly what type of player is Andrew White, anyway?
I admit, I had never really sat down to watch any of this incredibly important potential addition to Syracuse in anything other than highlights. Everyone looks good in highlights. Everyone is Jimmy Chitwood, hitting every shot he takes and never turning the ball over. With that in mind, I went to YouTube and found the game that I’ve linked above.
It’s an ACC/Big Ten challenge game from last year, between Nebraska and Miami. I chose this game because, well, it’s one of the few full games from last year I could find on YouTube, but also because I wanted to see how Andrew White looks against ACC competition. After all, Syracuse is an ACC school (which, by the way, still feels weird to say).
Now, heading into a breakdown of Andrew White’s game, please note this caveat: this is the only full game I’ve watched of Andrew White’s. I watched some of his game against Michigan State (in which Nebraska won, but White scored seven points before fouling out). I skipped over some of his bigger scoring performances, because they generally came against schools like Samford, or Penn State. He won’t be seeing that level of competition if he chooses to come to Syracuse on a very regular basis.
Anyone can look good against a lower tier school. But how do they perform against good, athletic defenses like Miami?
I’m going to throw two names out there right now, and these are also mentioned with the caveat that, obviously, it’s hard to peg a player from one game, and I’m not trying to set any expectations. But here are the two names that immediately came to mind as I watched that Nebraska and Miami game: Demetris Nichols, and James Southerland.
Let’s get right to it here: anyone expecting Andrew White to spend much time at shooting guard for Syracuse is in for a pretty big surprise, I think. Based on what I’ve watched of Andrew White, he’s a small forward. Through and through. He’s a spot up shooter and a strong rebounder, and is exactly the type of player Syracuse needs.
But he’s as much a shooting guard as Tyler Lydon was a center last year. In other words, “in case of emergency.”
The first thing that really jumped out when watching White was his size. He’s well put together, a solid 220 on a 6-foot-7 frame. That comes into play with his ability to rebound the basketball. He grabbed about six boards per game last year, and it’s easy to see why. He’s a good, not necessarily great athlete with a chiseled frame who can get after it aggressively on the glass.
But he also lacks the lateral quickness and handle to really be considered a shooting guard. His handle isn’t bad. It’s certainly not as bad as James Southerland’s was (Dirty, as much as we all loved him, was a nightmare trying to handle the rock). But he’ll never be mistaken for Pearl Washington.
And this brings me to my next point about what we can expect from White, should he decide to come to Syracuse: he’s a catch and shoot perimeter player. He’s a very good jump shooter, but like Southerland, while he can also finish pretty well around the rim, he’s not going to be creating many shots for himself. He just doesn’t have the ability to beat defenders off the dribble very often, due to a combination of an at times shaky handle along with that decent but not great quickness I mentioned.
If you watch White operate in the half court setting, he tends to float around the perimeter almost exclusively. When he does catch the ball and put it on the floor, he generally winds up taking one or two strong dribbles before picking the ball up and kicking it to a teammate. Against Miami, he had real trouble trying to beat defenders off the bounce.
Now, it sounds like I’m criticizing White here, and I promise I’m not. He’s a very good player. He’d be a great addition to Syracuse. But if people are expecting a transcendent offensive talent, I think they need to reel back those expectations considerably. He’s a guy who will have a night where he hits six or seven threes and wind up with 28 points, and then follow that up with a five point game because his jumper just isn’t falling.
White doesn’t need to create his own offense on this year’s Syracuse roster, however. What the Orange need is a guy who can knock down three pointers. Jim Boeheim already has several guys who can create for themselves and get into the lane. That’s where Tyus Battle is really going to emerge as a difference maker, and both Frank Howard and John Gillon have the ability as well. What those three players need is someone to kick a pass out to for a spot up three pointer.
And that’s where Andrew White comes in. If he can fill that role, he’ll be an invaluable piece of the puzzle. Again, if he picks Syracuse (which is what I fully expect to happen).
Syracuse has a chance to be special this year. What the Orange need is someone who can hit three pointers and provide depth on the wing. Andrew White’s not the next Carmelo Anthony, but he could very well be the next Demetris Nichols or James Southerland. And frankly, I’d be really damned happy with that.