NCAA Basketball

Big East Player to Watch: Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse)

The Syracuse Orange may have lost some of their best players from a season ago in Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine, Fab Melo, and NBA lottery pick Dion Waiters, but all things considered, Jim Boheim probably isn’t too concerned moving forward.

Of course it’s always difficult to rebound from losing very talented and experienced players, but when it opens up the door for someone special, sometimes it’s really a blessing in disguise. Enter Michael Carter-Williams.

Entering his sophomore campaign, Carter-Williams was a top-20 player according to the 2011 ESPNU 100, averaging 23.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists and participating in both the McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic games. Despite limited playing time as a freshman, Carter-Williams reportedly looked great in team practices last season, and he’s as ready to breakout as anyone in the Big East.

One of Carter-Williams’ biggest strengths is his diversity. Standing close to 6-foot-6, he handles the ball well enough to be able to switch roles with Brandon Triche when necessary, and may even be the teams starting point guard this season. In high school, he showed incredible instincts when it came to deciding whether to score or find a teammate, which will benefit him greatly considering he’ll have talented bigs in Rakeem Christmas, Jerami Grant, and DaJuan Coleman to feed the ball to.

As unselfish as Carter-Williams can play, he’s such a talented scorer that Boheim may want to take the ball out of his senior leader ‘s (Triche) hands to allow him to to be the teams lead decision maker. As talented of a shooter as he is a slasher, his ability to distribute will allow him room to catch opposing defenses off guard by pulling up and shooting, which is practically his bread and butter. He’s great off the dribble, and with his speed, athleticism, and defense thanks to his long arms, he has the potential to be the most surprising player in all of the Big East.

The main knock on him is that he’s too skinny (listed at 176 pounds - sheesh), but he should have a height advantage over most opposing guards, allowing him optimal looks and uncontested shots.

This will undoubtedly be a challenging season for Syracuse, moving forward without so many players who were detrimental to the team’s success in previous seasons, but you can expect Michael Carter-Williams will do his best to make you forget about the past.

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