The biggest question the Syracuse Orange were faced with last season was whether or not then-freshman point guard Tyler Ennis was ready to lead the team in its first season as a member of the ACC. With Michael Carter-Williams (NBA) and Brandon Triche (graduation) both moving on, Ennis was Jim Boeheim’s best (and only) option to run the show and the St. Benedict’s Prep product did not disappoint.
Ennis posted averages of 12.9 points, 5.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game for the Orange, leading them to the top spot in the national polls before the team’s late-season offensive slump resulted in a disappointing end to the 2013-14 season.
Now that Ennis has decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft, a similar question has been asked of incoming freshman Kaleb Joseph this spring: is the elite point guard from Cushing Academy ready to run the show? And in a story written by Chris Carlson of the Syracuse Post-Standard, it’s evident that Joseph has worked extremely hard to reach this stage in his basketball career.
What is Joseph’s motivation? This quote from the player himself says it all.
“I’m nervous about not being good enough, not making the NBA,” Joseph said. “I’ve always said that’s what I want to do. Everyone knows it’s what I want. If I come up short I have to go back to Nashua. Once you fall off no one gives a f*** who you are anymore. You’re just some dude.”
The chip on Joseph’s shoulder could prove beneficial for not only him but his teammates as well in 2014-15. In addition to Ennis Syracuse will also have to account for the loss of forwards C.J. Fair, who like Ennis was one of the best players in the country, and Jerami Grant (center Baye Moussa Keita, as well). With those departures just one double-digit scorer (guard Trevor Cooney) returns to campus for Syracuse, meaning that Joseph will have a lot on his plate from the start.
Will the questions of whether or not Joseph and and his new teammates (including fellow freshman Chris McCullough) are ready to carry the load be asked throughout the summer? Definitely. And based upon Carlson’s profile of the freshman, those questions will only add more fuel to the fire that burns within the player once dubbed “The Bookworm Assassin.”