SYRACUSE — Quincy Guerrier wasn’t among the estimated 1.5 million Canadians celebrating at the Toronto Raptors’ NBA championship parade this past June, instead, the Golden State Warriors fan utilized the early summer to work out with fellow Montreal native Kris Joseph in preparation for his Syracuse University men’s basketball career.
Guerrier — a dynamic 6-foot-7, 210-pound freshman forward from Thetford Academy in remote Thetford Mines, Quebec — is expected to be in the Orange starting five for his collegiate debut tonight when SU hosts defending national champion No. 9/11 Virginia at 9 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. The Atlantic Coast Conference matchup and season opener for both teams will be televised on the ACC Network.
Guerrier is looking to contribute to the growing momentum of the sport in his native country while adding to the lineage of Canadian-born players in the SU program. That includes Joseph, who scored 1,476 points for the Orange from 2008-12 and helped forge a connection between SU and the composite four-star prospect.
Guerrier said he committed to SU due to his comfort level with head coach Jim Boeheim, entering his 44th season guiding his alma mater, and associate head coach Adrian Autry, who was his primary recruiter.
“When I first got here for my visit, I saw that the coaches were real with me and I think the ACC is the best conference, and it’s the best fit for me in terms of what Syracuse is running on offense,” said Guerrier, who speaks Quebec French and English fluently.
Guerrier grew up admiring former SU star Carmelo Anthony and said that he worked out with Joseph on multiple occasions throughout summer, taking each opportunity to learn from his hometown mentor.
Joseph, a former NBA Draft pick who recently signed to play for a pro team in France for the upcoming season, was also a longtime friend of Guerrier’s high school coach, Ibrahim Appiah, and helped bridge the recruiting connection.
Guerrier said that he also called former SU player and Toronto native Oshae Brissett — a two-year starting forward that left SU for the NBA Draft following last year’s 20-14 season that ended with a first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament — to seek advice before arriving to campus on July 1.
“He’s been here all summer and worked really hard,” Boeheim said. “He’s been as hard a worker as anyone we’ve had with getting in the gym and shooting, and he continues to make good progress.”
Guerrier said that he hopes to play a part in the sport’s booming popularity north of the border.
Less than two weeks after the Toronto Raptors claimed the country’s first NBA title by beating the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors, a record six Canadian-born players were selected in the NBA Draft. And despite an early exit in the FIBA World Championships last summer, the Canadian men’s national team reached a qualifying tournament next June for a chance to gain a bid to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which would mark its first in the sport since 2000.
“Everybody was hating on me (for liking the Warriors), but yeah, it was really a big thing in Canada, there was a parade with three million people there,” Guerrier said. “It was really crazy and big-time all over Canada. I feel like every year, Canada is getting better in basketball all-around, so it’s pretty cool to see that.”
Guerrier was the top-rated Canadian prospect in this year’s freshman class, a distinction that was held last year by reigning USA Today National Player of the Year and former Duke star, R.J. Barrett, and the SU freshman has already garnered late first-round forecasts in early 2020 NBA mock drafts.
Following in the footsteps of Brissett, who recently referred to Guerrier as a “player that will shock people,” Guerrier will also join recent standouts like Toronto native Tyler Ennis (2013-14) and Joseph in the SU lineage. The tradition goes back at least as far as Leo Rautins, a Toronto native that starred for the Orange under Boeheim from 1980-83 and now works as a Raptors broadcaster for TSN.
“We’re always looking for players that can help us and we’ve had success in Toronto and Montreal in the past with players like Kris Joseph and a number of others,” Boeheim said. “That area is only four or five hours away from us so we’re going to always be mindful of the players in those areas and if they can help us.”
Physically mature beyond his years, Guerrier can aggressively attack the basket and possesses a capable outside shooting touch, and should provide an imposing, energetic rebounding presence on each end of the floor. He averaged 11.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game as a starter during SU’s four-game exhibition tour of Italy in August.
Guerrier should slide into a high-motor complementary role around offensive focal point Elijah Hughes and a deep backcourt with potent long-range shooters, and should thrive in transition opportunities if SU’s anticipated plan to play at a faster pace proves true.
“Physicality and leadership is what I can bring, even though I’m a freshman, I feel that I can bring my leadership to the team,” Guerrier said. “I’m still trying to figure it out exactly and on defense, I’m making some mistakes, but I think I can bring my shot and I can grab a lot of rebounds.”
SYRACUSE MEN’S BASKETBALL BY POSITION
Syracuse enters the 44th season under coach Jim Boeheim with a new-look backcourt following the loss of two-year starters: shooting guard Tyus Battle to the NBA Draft and point guard Frank Howard to graduation. Sophomore Buddy Boeheim (6-foot-6) will take over the starting SG spot and should serve as one of the main offensive options as a lethal 3-point shooter. The Fayetteville native and son of coach Jim Boeheim connected on 1.5 shots from deep (.353 percent) in 17 minutes per game as a freshman last year, and made 5 of 11 from behind the arc in SU’s two October exhibition games. ... Sophomore Jalen Carey (6-3) is expected to start at point guard and can push the pace for SU’s anticipated plans to increase its tempo from recent seasons. Carey played sparingly as a freshman, averaging 12 minutes across 25 games and posting an average of one assist to 1.64 turnovers per outing, but the former prized recruit from Harlem projects as a strong fit running the fast break and can create chaos atop the 2-3 zone. ... Freshman Brycen Goodine (6-3) will likely back up Carey at PG and could challenge for heavy minutes. The four-star recruit and former Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year enters the program with a well-polished, multi-faceted scoring skill set. ... Freshman and instant fan favorite Joe Girard III (6-1) — the state’s all-time leading scorer (4,763 career points) from Glens Falls — also seems to have garnered an assured role off the bench to begin his SU career. The two-time State Gatorade Player of the Year recipient provides another long-range shooting threat, adds a competitive edge, and can handle the ball if needed. ... Howard Washington (6-3) appears to be on the outside of the backcourt rotation entering the season. The junior is back to health following a medical redshirt for the 2018-19 season mainly prompted by a stroke suffered last September. Washington has also battled back from a torn ACL that prematurely ended his freshman campaign.
Redshirt junior Elijah Hughes (6-6) is poised to thrive as SU’s offensive focal point and starting small forward. Hughes is the only returning full-time starter back from last year and averaged 13.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game while connecting on a team-high 87 shots from behind the arc on a .369 percentage in his first year at SU. The Beacon native and former East Carolina transfer averaged 19.5 points, six boards, 4.5 assists, and 1.5 steals during SU’s two preseason games last month, making 7 of 13 shots from deep while setting up teammates and fueling energy on defense. ... Quincy Guerrier (6-7) should provide toughness and a strong rebounding presence as the only freshman in the starting lineup, a seamless fit to slide into the role vacated by Oshae Brissett, another two-year starter that left for the NBA Draft. ... Junior Marek Dolezaj (6-10) should see plenty of run as the first player off the bench in most games. The versatile forward has served as a key role player in each of the last two seasons, and has endeared himself to coaches, teammates, and fans for his willingness to make hustle plays. Dolezaj also helps stimulate offense as a skilled passer and could play some minutes at center in smaller lineups. ... Sophomore Robert Braswell (6-7) has flashed potential in limited opportunities, including a 17-point outing on 6-for-7 shooting to go with three blocks in 22 minutes during SU’s preseason opener, but is likely competing for an inconsistent role as the potential ninth man in Boeheim’s traditionally short rotation.
Junior Bourama Sidibe (6-10) — a native of Bamako, Mali, who played at St. Benedict’s Prep School in N.J. — is projected to start at center and anchor the middle of the Orange’s signature 2-3 zone. Sidibe saw limited action while backing up graduated starter Paschal Chukwu and battling various injuries over the last two seasons. Sidibe has posted career averages of 11.3 minutes, 2.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks across 59 games, but offers more athletic upside and offensive potential than SU has seen at the position in recent memory. ... Freshman Jesse Edwards (6-11) generated buzz among SU followers as a highly-regarded recruit from Amsterdam (Netherlands). The unpolished big man, who started playing the sport at age 16, already offers a tantalizing package of offensive skills facing the basket to go with ideal range on defense. Edwards is unlikely to carve out a large role early in the season but is a player whose development should be monitored as the hopeful future at the center position. ... Freshman John Bol Ajak (6-10) presents another intriguing development project inside for the Orange but is unlikely to see the court often as a freshman.
SU MEN’S BASKETBALL 2019-20 SCHEDULE
Home games at the Carrier Dome; *ACC games.
Nov. 6: vs. Virginia, 9 p.m.*
Nov. 13: vs. Colgate, 7 p.m.
Nov. 16: vs. Seattle, 7 p.m. (NIT Season Tipoff)
Nov. 20: vs. Cornell, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 23: vs. Bucknell, noon (NIT Season Tipoff)
Nov. 27: vs. Oklahoma State, 7 p.m., at Brooklyn
Nov. 29: vs. Ole Miss or Penn State, 7/9 p.m., at Brooklyn
Dec. 3: vs. Iowa, 7/7:30 p.m. (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)
Dec. 7: at Georgia Tech, TBA*
Dec. 14: at Georgetown, 1 p.m.
Dec. 18: vs. Oakland, 8 p.m.
Dec. 21: vs. North Florida, 6 p.m.
Dec. 28: vs. Niagara, 7 p.m.
Jan. 4: vs. Notre Dame, 4 p.m.*
Jan. 7: vs. Virginia Tech, 9 p.m.*
Jan. 11: at Virginia, 4 p.m.*
Jan. 15: vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.*
Jan. 18: at Virginia Tech, noon*
Jan. 22: at Notre Dame, 7 p.m.*
Jan. 25: vs. Pittsburgh, Noon*
Jan. 28: at Clemson, 7 p.m.*
Feb. 1: vs. Duke, 4/6/8 p.m.*
Feb. 8: vs. Wake Forest, 8 p.m.*
Feb. 11: vs. North Carolina State, 7 p.m.*
Feb. 15: at Florida State, Noon*
Feb. 19: at Louisville, 7 p.m.*
Feb. 22: vs. Georgia Tech, 4 p.m.*
Feb. 26: at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.*
Feb. 29: vs. North Carolina, 4/6/8 p.m.*
March 3: at Boston College, 7 p.m.*
March 7: at Miami, Fla., 2/4 p.m.*