Last season, after spending his first year at Syracuse redshirting, there were some big expectations among Orange fans for Trevor Cooney. After all, he had a reputation for being a lethal 3-point shooter, something the Orange were in serious need of last year.
But then, he struggled to find his shot on his way to hitting just 27 percent from deep, which resulted in getting fewer minutes and more frustration from Syracuse fans. Many were ready to write him off as a bust, and most were expecting Duke transfer Michael Gbinije to leapfrog him on the depth chart. That’s what made it a little bit surprising when the season started and Cooney was right there in the starting five, and what’s come since then has been even more of a surprise.
That’s because Cooney has far surpassed any expectations that anyone could have had for him, proving to be the lights-out shooter he was advertised as and showing a more well-rounded game than anyone could have anticipated. He’s proven to be adept taking the ball to the hoop, finishing through contact and showing some athleticism that most probably didn’t expect to see from him.
He’s also settled in at the top of the vaunted 2-3 zone very well, with great anticipation in the passing lanes leading to an average of 2.6 steals per game.
He’s also the team’s second-leading scorer, pumping in 15.1 points per game while shooting 47.3 percent from deep and 47 percent overall, a more than respectable number for the 6-foot-4 shooting guard. He’s surpassed 20 points in three of the team’s first eight games, including scoring 21 on just 12 shot attempts in a big win over Indiana on Tuesday.
Heading into this season, the biggest question mark faced by Syracuse was thought to be its depth and inexperience at the guard positions. However, with Cooney blossoming into a potential star and Tyler Ennis playing like a veteran at the point guard spot with a 5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, what was thought to be a weakness has suddenly become one of the team’s strengths.
Prior to the start of the season, Cooney was something of an afterthought, even among Syracuse fans. Now, he’s playing like an All-ACC guard, which is exactly what he’ll be at the end of the season if he keeps playing at this high level.