Jonny Flynn, Earl Washington, Eric Devendorf, Gerry McNamara are all names synonymous with playing in the back-court for the Syracuse Orange. However, New York State’s All-Time leading scorer and four star freshman recruit Joe Girard III has a chance to become the greatest guard in program history.
With Syracuse losing their leading scorer in Tyus Battle declaring for the NBA draft, there remains a lot of points left to be filled for head coach Jim Boeheim’s squad. Leave that up to Girard III.
Girard averaged 39.0 PPG in five years at Glens Falls high school in upstate New York. His senior season, Girard III averaged 48.6 PPG.
Seeing him first hand several times, he has all the skills that come with being an elite level scorer. As a ball handler, he can split double teams and penetrate and finish with contact among the trees while also getting absurd elevation on his perimeter jump shot.
In his five years playing at Glens Falls he recorded scoring averages of 21.7 (as an eighth grader), 33.9, 36.4, 50.0, and then his before mentioned 48.6.
Off ball, he is even more dangerous, finding holes in the defense and running off-screens to catch and shoot in one fluid motion.
Syracuse could use his help from the perimeter as they finished ranked 233rd in three-point percentage.
One good shooter like Girard won’t skyrocket their ranking in terms of perimeter shooting up from last season, but it will at least make teams respect the range that Girard is capable of. Not to mention, he is a player that when double or even triple teamed he does not panic and makes the right basketball play.
His clutch gene is also a key factor, as he had to display it in the State championship with Boeheim in attendance.
— NYSPHSAA (@NYSPHSAA) March 16, 2019
Starting as a freshman?
Girard comes into Syracuse with a great opportunity to play right off the bat. He has some competition in camp already trying to beat out some of his teammates. Those teammates include returning players sophomore Jalen Carry and junior Howard Washington.
Carry got minutes to begin the season last year and recorded a career-high 26 points in an 83-76 loss to UCONN, but then fell out of favor in the Syracuse line-up and by season’s-end was pulling mop-up duty.
Howard is coming back for his third season. In his freshman season, Howard struggled to get onto the floor for meaningful minutes, only getting to play over 10 minutes in four of the 18 contests he suited up for. The season was quickly ended when he tore his ACL in practice which carried over into his sophomore season where he played in only three games.
Girard is joined in the freshman class by ESPN top 100 recruit Brycen Goodine (ranked at 75th). Both are set to be the future back-court for the Orange.
If Girard can impress in the summer workout program, training camp, and the four-game Italy tour for Boeheim, then there is good reason to believe that he can start at the beginning of the year. Even if he’s not a starter for their season opener versus the defending national champions Virginia on November 6th, you can bet that he’ll end up being the starter come ACC tournament time.
It suits both Syracuse and Girard to play him immediately as shown in Glens Falls. Being called up in eighth grade and then averaging over 20 a game, Girard was able to adjust his game, adapt, and get better with each season. By the time he was a senior, he was a bonafide division one talent earning one accolade after another.
He will have to show his commitment on the defensive end of the floor and learn how to play the famed 2-3 zone the way Boeheim wants. As long as the defensive effort is there, then Girard should see significant playing time as a freshman.
What makes Girard different from other Syracuse guards?
As many upstate New Yorkers know, Girard attended the same high school as the ex-BYU sensation and 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Jimmer Fredette. Girard and Fredette worked out together prior to Girard’s senior season at SUNY Adirondack campus and in the workout I’m sure that several nuggets about how to leave an impact in college were discussed.
You could say that a lot of Girard’s game mirrors that of Fredette in terms of range, pulling up from absurd ranges with full confidence that it is going in. More often than not, those shots fall.
As long as Girard can use what was told to him by Fredette and be in the ear of Boeheim, who has coached college legends like Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas, and Pearl Washington, then he has a great chance to become the greatest Syracuse guard of all time.