Thursday, April 30, 2009

Who will be next season's Public Enemy #1?

Greg Paulus graduated. So did Tyler Hansbrough. Steph Curry has entered the draft and signed with an agent.

Now comes news that Eric Devendorf, the guy that every loved to hate, has officially signed with an agent, ending his collegiate career.

Eric Devendorf has signed with an agent.
(photo credit: USA Today)

The Orange, who reached the Sweet 16 as a #3 seed after making a run to the Big East tournament finals, were an early Final Four favorite in 2010. They had everyone of significance coming back, plus they were adding wing Wesley Johnson (a transfer from Iowa State that tore up Syracuse practices this season).

But then a weird thing happened. Jim Boeheim all but ushered his top three scorers out the door. He "recommended" that Jonny Flynn enter the draft, and essentially forced Devo and Harris to leave school.

Flynn made a good decision to leave. With so many potential first rounders pulling out of the draft, Flynn has an outside chance of sneaking into the lottery, and is pretty much a first round lock.

To be honest, I think Devo was gone regardless. He graduated this past year (he was a junior in basketball terms because he missed a season with a knee injury), has a kid, and couldn't seem to keep himself out of trouble. Devo is a long shot to be a first round pick, and there is a good chance that he goes undrafted on June 25th. He is not big, strong or quick enough to play in the NBA, and while he is an excellent shooter (especially in the clutch) and solid playmaker, he won't be able to defend NBA wings. But his game (if not his attitude) is perfectly suited for Europe, and I would expect him to make a nice living over there for years.

The curious one is Harris. Most people expected him to be a one-and-done guy coming out of high school, but playing in the Big East really exposed Harris's weaknesses. While he is an excellent athlete, aggressive on the glass, and a solid defender, he is only 6'5" and lacks the handle or the jumper to play the perimeter in the league and he is a terrible decision maker. He really could have used another season to hone his skills.

So why did Boeheim show these guys the door?

Well, for starters they needed the scholarship space for their incoming class (and for Johnson).

But more than that, it just seems that Boeheim never really liked this group, especially Harris. According to Andy Katz, after the season, Boeheim didn't hear from Harris, who was in the coach's doghouse for much of the second half of the season, for three weeks. Boeheim also gave this quote to Katz:
We lost three starters but I'll take Wesley Johnson over Paul Harris and Andy Rautins over Eric Devendorf. In some ways, Triche will be better for us. He's really good.
While Boeheim may be correct, I don't think I would want to stay and play for a coach that has no qualms with blasting his former players in the media like that.

The Orange should, however, still compete atop the Big East next season. They return an excellent front line with Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson and Rautins was really impressive down the stretch last season as more than just a shooter. If Triche and Johnson can come in and be as good as Boeheim is saying they are, don't be surprised if this Cuse team makes another Sweet 16 trip.

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