While much of the attention from the U19 World Championships over the last two weeks was heaped upon the Americans — Aaron Gordon, Montrezl Harrell, Jahlil Okafor, etc. — perhaps the most important player at the event suited up for our neighbors up north.
Tyler Ennis played his high school ball for St. Benedict’s in New Jersey and will be moving on to play for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse this coming season, but Ennis is one of the best players in a loaded class for Canadian hoopers.
He’s also a point guard, which Syracuse is in dire need of with Michael Carter-Williams turning pro the same year that Brandon Triche graduated. The Orange have a slew of talent once again — CJ Fair, Jerami Grant, Trevor Cooney and yet another loaded recruiting class, to name a few — but Ennis will be the only floor general on the roster.
Coming in with the reputation of being more of a facilitator than scorer — he’s described by ESPN as being “a great play maker that can also run the team” — how did Ennis do in Russia? Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News breaks it down:
In a quarterfinal matchup against the U.S., Ennis was overwhelmed by the constant pressure from a series of rotating American defenders. He was not alone; teammate Xavier Rathan-Mayes, bound for Florida State, got the same treatment. Ennis shot 5-of-12 from the field and scored only 11 points.
Ennis led the tournament in scoring, though, in part because of a 42-point explosion against China in a classification game. He shot 15-of-32 from the field in that one, getting to the lane at will. That is his game. He is not an exceptional 3-point shooter yet, and the development of that part of his game will determine how greatly he succeeds.
Struggling against the Americans is a bit concerning, but his scoring is a good sign.
Syracuse is going to need Ennis to be aggressive offensively. While there are pieces around him, there aren’t many guys that are going to be able to consistently create their own shot. And outside of CJ Fair, their leading returning scorer is Rakeem Christmas, who averaged all of 5.1 points.
The Orange will need Ennis to be a scoring threat, and it looks like he’s capable of doing that when needed.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.