Tyler Ennis

Report: Syracuse freshman Tyler Ennis to enter the NBA Draft


Tyler Ennis will forgo his final three years of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft, according to a report from Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.

Ennis had a terrific freshman campaign, averaging 12.9 points, 5.5 assists and just 1.7 turnovers, but the years ended in disappointment as the Orange were upset early in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

“I’d like to thank Coach Boeheim, the coaching staff, my teammates and the amazing fans of Syracuse for the opportunity to play at a great university like Syracuse,” said Ennis. “I feel this experience has helped prepare me to fulfill my lifelong dream – to play in the NBA.”

Ennis is not a next-level athlete like a Derrick Rose or a John Wall, but he’s as heady as point guards come, the kind of player that doesn’t get sped up by defensive pressure. He’s got a terrific feel for the game and is able to get his team into their offense without turning the ball over, and he’s shown an exceptional ability to execute in the clutch. Draft Express currently projects him as the 14th pick in the draft and the third point guard taken after Dante Exum and Marcus Smart.

MOREThe entire list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

This will be the second straight season where the Orange have sent a point guard off to the NBA quicker than expected. Ennis was forced into a starting role this season because Michael Carter-Williams left after his sophomore year. The good news is that Boeheim landed a commitment from Kaleb Joseph, a point guard from New England that was the No. 55 recruit in the country in the Class of 2014. Like Ennis, he will be thrust into a starting role early in his tenure.

All eyes in Upstate New York now turn to Jerami Grant, who is still deciding whether or not he will enter the draft. If he leaves, that means the Orange will lose their top three players from this season, as C.J. Fair is graduating as well.

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.

Coach Hamilton likes mix on Florida State basketball roster

ACC Basketball Tournament: Florida State v North Carolina
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State is the only team in the Atlantic Coast Conference that returns all five of its starters from last season.

For most teams that would be cause for celebration. For coach Leonard Hamilton it means he is hoping the struggles of the past two seasons have been valuable experience.

The Seminoles had their first practice on Wednesday as they are looking to bounce back from a season in which they went 17-16 and didn’t play in a postseason tournament for the first time in 10 years.

“We have five starters returning from a team that won 17 games. We have guys that have been around, who know their shortcomings and can pass on their wisdom to the younger players,” Hamilton said.

With an experienced roster and a highly regarded recruiting class, Hamilton is hoping to lead the Seminoles back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012, which is also the year they won the ACC Tournament.

Jarquez Smith, the leading returning scorer from last season, said the open gyms before the start of practice have been extremely competitive as the incoming recruiting class has tried to assert itself early.

“We’ve been going at each other’s neck and it has gotten very competitive,” Smith said. “Everyone is fighting for their position because the guys coming off the bench are just as athletic as who is on the court.”

The newcomers feature Dwayne Bacon (a McDonald’s All-American selection), Terance Mann (the Gatorade Player of the Year in New Hampshire) and Malik Beasley (the Georgia 1A Player of the Year). There’s also Chris Koumadje, who at 7-foot-4 will be the tallest player in school history, and Benji Bell, who helped lead Northwest Florida State to the JUCO National Title.

“This is a very confident and focused group of inexperienced players,” Hamilton said. “They want to make something special happen but aren’t taking anything for granted.”

Two things that Hamilton will look to work on during preseason practices is defense and figuring out his rotation. The Seminoles suffered from a lack of depth last season but this year he could have a roster that goes 10 deep and allows him to go to more of a full-court pressing style of defense.

Xavier Rahan-Mayes led the team in scoring last season, averaging 14.9 points en route to becoming the first freshman in ACC history to score 30 or more points three times. The one thing he said he noticed in preseason practices were that everyone played off each other’s strengths.

Florida State’s first exhibition game is Nov. 2 against Lynn University before opening the season on Nov. 15 against Nicholls State.

“I think we have a pretty good combination of experience and an influx of new players. Any time you have that type of scenario you appreciate it,” Hamilton said. “It looks like we have it moving in the right direction. We’ve had a good offseason and regrouped.”