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Decision Day Looms As Five-Star PG Ennis Makes Announcement

It’s been a busy summer for Syracuse on many fronts. Rewinding back to June, The Orange had three players, including top-five pick Dion Waiters, selected in the NBA Draft for the first time since the draft was cut to two rounds in 1989. Then, as you all know, Jim Boeheim and Mike Hopkins spent July coaching Team USA before Boeheim helped lead the squad to gold in London. It’s even been busy on the fringes, as Scoop Jardine got hurt, then landed a spot in preseason camp with the Charlotte Bobcats, Mookie Jones announced that he officially would not be with the team next season, and former walk-on Brandon Reese secured a pro contract with an Israeli team. One area that hasn’t been so publicly busy has been recruiting, but that could all change tonight when five-star point guard Tyler Ennis, a rising senior from Ontario, makes his college announcement.

A commit from Ennis, whose list has whittled down to Illinois, Louisville, UCLA and Memphis in addition to Syracuse would be huge for the Orange. Currently, the team looks very thin at the point guard spot for the 2013-14 season, and there’s no guarantee that Michael Carter-Williams will be around. MCW is already a first-round selection on multiple mock drafts and many smart evaluators think of him as one of the biggest breakout candidates in the Big East next season. Of course, the situation has to play itself out, but it’s also true that the team needs to prepare itself for life after Carter-Williams.

While the Orange appear set with shooting guards Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije being part of the mix, a true floor general to succeed Carter-Williams, whether it comes in 2013 or later, is a major need at the moment. SU assistant Adrian Autry is well aware of this, and that’s why he could be spotted at every game Ennis played during the live period in July. As Twitter has given way to an insatiable level of demand in recruiting updates over the last few years, I have a hard time remembering Syracuse pursuing one player as hard as Ennis. Maybe there’s one out there, but no one comes to mind, so if the Orange come up short during the announcement tonight, it won’t have been for a lack of effort on Syracuse’s part.

Ennis, who checks in at 6’2″ and 175 pounds, has drawn rave reviews for his court vision and basketball IQ, regularly showing his ability to run an offense and put his teammates in position to score. While he doesn’t possess a lightning-quick first step like Jonny Flynn or Dion Waiters, he can make plays in the lane when the need arises. He’s still developing a consistent perimeter game, but he can sink threes with enough accuracy to at least keep defenses honest, so while he won’t load up the scoring column, he won’t leave it empty, either. Scouts believe he has the tools to eventually become a more prolific scorer, but he’s just not there yet, though that’s hardly a knock. Plus, if Ennis came to Syracuse, there would be so many weapons around him that it would be tough to picture him taking on that kind of role anyway.

According to multiple reports, the Orange remain the leader for Ennis’s services due to several factors. Like most players at his level, Ennis wants playing time, and that’s something Syracuse may have in spades from the second he steps foot on campus. From Ennis’s perspective, at worst, he’ll be a backup to Carter-Williams and at best, he’ll start from day one. Ennis also wants to be surrounded by players who can finish off his passes, and while it’s impossible to truly project, there’s every reason in the world to believe that he’ll have huge weapons alongside him, whether it’s Dajuan Coleman and Rakeem Christmas down low, C.J. Fair on the wing or Cooney or Gbinije from outside. Lastly, Ennis has a very strong relationship with the Orange, and SU enjoys some geographic advantages. Growing up, the Orange were the first team Ennis saw live and he’s made multiple visits since then. In fact, the fit seems so natural that Illinois, thought to be SU’s closest challenger, has offers on the table to three other point guards in the 2013 class, which should tell you a lot about what new Illini head coach John Groce thinks of his chances.

The stage is set for what figures to be an exciting night in SU’s offseason, and you can tune in to the announcement on the website of Ennis’s AAU team, CIA Bounce, at 6 EST.

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