Following an injury-riddled career in Turkey, former Syracuse basketball star Tyler Ennis is making the most of affiliate opportunities on home soil.
Former Syracuse basketball star and NBA role player Tyler Ennis is making a case for an NBA return in the G-League. Last month, Ennis signed a contract with the Toronto Raptors, was immediately waived, and has since dominated as an affiliate player with the reigning champs’ G-League team: Raptors 905.
Ennis, who was born in Brampton, Ontario played promising basketball at Saint Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey. Ahead of his senior-year commitment to play for Syracuse, Ennis was named the Gatorade New Jersey Player of the year as a Junior, averaging over 14 points and seven assists per game.
The prized Canadian’s scoring prowess and savvy passing ability deemed him a five-star recruit on ESPN’s Top 100 for the class of 2013 and was listed as the No. 20 player in the country. Ennis chose Syracuse over fellow finalists UCLA, Illinois, Louisville, and Memphis.
The Canadian had no problem adjusting to college hoops, dominating ACC play as soon as he came to Central New York. In his lone season under Jim Boeheim, Ennis earned a spot on the 2014 All-ACC Second Team and the All-ACC Freshman/Defense teams after averaging 13 points, three rebounds five assists and two steals in 34 games.
Following semi-final consideration for the Naismith College Player of the Year, Ennis was drafted 18th overall by Phoenix in the 2014 NBA Draft. Following a handful of trips to the Suns’ affiliate in Bakersfield, Ennis was traded to Milwaukee in 2015 in part of a three-team deal which included Miles Plumlee, Michael Carter-Williams, and Brandon Knight.
Three months later, after receiving less than adequate opportunity with the Bucks, Ennis underwent surgery to fix a torn labrum. Despite a handful of promising performances with the Bucks including a then career-high 12 assist performance against Charlotte in 2016, the Syracuse product was traded to Houston in September of 2016 for Michael Beasley.
With the Rockets, Ennis averaged under two points in 31 appearances, large in part to just playing less than seven minutes per game. The following February, Ennis was dealt to Los Angeles for Marcelo Huertas. Ennis’ first game with the Lakers came with an injured D’Angelo Russell out of the lineup, and spearheaded LA to a 102-95 win over San Antonio, scoring 19 points. Four days later, the Canadian established a new career-high in scoring with 20 points against Minnesota in a one-point win (110-109).
In July of 2017, Ennis re-signed with Los Angeles and looked to have finally found his safe-haven in the league. Despite two 20+ point performances against Utah and Houston during the 2017-18 season, Ennis was waived by the Lakers a year after re-signing.
Less than a month later, Ennis took his talents to Turkey and signed a two-year deal with Fenerbahçe. After averaging seven points in his first four games overseas, Ennis sustained a gruesome ankle injury in October of 2018 and was released by the club this past summer.
After his future in the NBA was stunted following the injury that derailed his overseas experience, Ennis was given another chance with Toronto, on October 20th. The Raptors signed and immediately waived Ennis, making him an affiliate player who primarily plays for the Raptors 905 in Mississauga but can be signed with any NBA team if his play earns a contract.
After just six games with the 905, the prospect of the guard returning to the NBA is becoming more and more probable. Like fellow G-League alumni Chris Boucher, who carved out a role with the 905 before becoming an NBA mainstay, Ennis has played promising basketball thus far, averaging 19 points on 46% shooting, along with nine assists, five rebounds, and three steals.
A recent team-high 29 points in a winning effort against the Erie Bayhawks on November 23rd has put NBA teams on watch, and the idea of Ennis returning to the association before the New Year is far from unrealistic.
Like fellow Syracuse alum and current Raptor Oshae Brissett, Ennis is re-earning his stripes in Mississauga, and the Raptors 905 are giving him a chance to revamp his professional basketball career on home soil.