The Syracuse University men’s basketball team was uncertain of when it would be cleared to return to practice just six days before the season opener, setting the stage for a turbulent season in which proven players will be relied upon heavily.

During a recent zoom chat with media, Coach Jim Boeheim expressed optimism regarding his veterans and noted improvement and muscle gain across the board after enduring his first season in more than two decades without a scholarship senior last year.

Here is a look at the SU roster for the upcoming season by position.

GUARDS

Syracuse will be led by the returning starting backcourt of sophomore point guard Joe Girard III and junior shooting guard Buddy Boeheim. The sharp-shooting duo is likely to be among SU’s leading scorers and will need to display improvement at the top of the 2-3 zone to help SU contend in the ACC. Jim Boeheim said that the duo is: “Much more physical, much more prepared for this year.” ... Freshman Kadary Richmond will be the first guard off the bench, according to Jim Boeheim, and will play point guard while he is on the floor, shifting Girard III off the ball occasionally. Boeheim described the newcomer as a “very talented player,” with strengths as a ball handler, penetrating, decision-making, finishing in the lane and defense. ... Alan Griffin also has the capability to shift to guard if depth becomes an issue.

FORWARDS

Illinois transfer Alan Griffin appears likely to take over the lone spot vacated in the starting lineup by the loss of All-ACC small forward Elijah Hughes to the NBA Draft. The 6-foot-5 junior averaged 8.9 points and 4.5 rebounds in 18.1 minutes per game for the Fighting Illini last year. ... Senior Marek Dolezaj is back to start at power forward as a versatile source of offense and aggressive defense with a penchant to make hustle plays. He is listed at 6-foot-10 and 201 pounds, an increase of 16 pounds from last season. ... Sophomore Quincy Guerrier is reportedly ready to go after offseason ankle surgery and likely to comprise the sixth-man role, playing both forward positions with a chance to challenge for a starting spot. The 6-foot-7, 221-pound prized recruit from Montreal showed flashes during an uneven freshman season last year. ... Junior Robert Braswell is expected back after being shut down last January for chronic lower-leg pain. The 6-foot-7 forward from Jacksonville has the potential to provide shooting and length off the bench and could push to deepen Boeheim’s rotation. The same can be said for freshman Woody Newton, a 6-foot-8, 190-pound forward from Baltimore rated No. 138 nationally in the 2020 class by 247Sports.

CENTERS

Senior Bourama Sidibe is back to man the middle of SU’s 2-3 zone defense after a strong finish to last season. The 6-foot-10, 218-pound center grabbed 10 or more rebounds in each of the last six games to post the longest stretch for the Orange since Rick Jackson nine years prior. ... Syracuse has several young centers vying for backup minutes. That battle for a possible regular spot in the rotation consists of sophomore Jesse Edwards (6-foot-11, 215 pounds), redshirt freshman John Bol Ajak (6-foot-10, 215), and freshman Frank Anselem (6-foot-10, 210).

— Times Sportswriter Josh St.Croix

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