Jim Boeheim was on Sportscenter today and the big takeaway from his appearance is that he thinks Tyler Ennis would have benefited from another season at SU.
I have absolutely no problem with Coach Boeheim giving his honest opinion on an NBA prospect, especially since he’s shown a willingness to back the majority of early entry decisions made by Cuse players in the past. This isn’t sour grapes; this is Boeheim not pulling any punches when asked for a straightforward basketball opinion.
But regardless of whether his approach was appropriate or not, his analysis of Tyler’s draft stock is totally off base.
Boeheim cites physical development as the reason Ennis should have returned to Syracuse for his sophomore campaign, but it’s not like he’s going to be taller or more athletic a year from now. The only physical improvement he can make is to add the strength needed to become a better finisher on offense and a stouter presence on the ball defensively. And no matter how great SU’s strength and conditioning program is, the fast track to physicality for Tyler Ennis lies in an NBA weight room, not at the Melo Center.
“Physicality” is not a skill that can be improved through repetition or practice. And the things that do make Ennis a lottery pick-type prospect cannot be honed any further at the college level. His jumpshot is fine, and added strength will give him the ability to extend his range to the professional 3-point line. His ballhandling is solid, and he makes up for his lack of superior quickness with instincts, feel, and the ability to understand and anticipate the movements of all 10 players on the court at once. His basketball IQ is off the charts and has been sharpened by the quality competition he’s already faced as a Canadian international, along with this past season taking on the ACC while a member of the Orange. In fact, the loudest ringing endorsement of Ennis’s basketball acumen came from Boeheim himself when he revealed that, “He’s smarter than I am.”
After leading the Cuse to a 25-0 start, and then (reluctantly) showing off a bit more scoring punch than we thought he had when the pieces around him began to struggle, Tyler’s stock will never be higher. Being “poised beyond your years” is a lot more impressive when you’re a freshman than when you’re a senior (or even a sophomore).
Furthermore, because his professional ceiling is capped by his limited natural athleticism, it’s important for him to sharpen his other gifts as efficiently as possible to compensate. The NBA is a different game and the earlier Ennis immerses himself in it, the quicker he’ll be able to slow the game down and continue to use his beautiful basketball mind to seemingly always make the right play.
He’s already making the right play by leaving school early; it’s too bad Coach Boeheim can’t see it.