Syracuse basketball redshirt junior forward Elijah Hughes cracked a prestigious list and was snubbed on another. Here are all the details.
Elijah Hughes, a redshirt junior forward with Syracuse basketball, is having himself an exquisite 2019-20 campaign at this juncture. Hughes is currently leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring, and, for my money, he’s one of the top players in the country.
The folks who hand out the 2020 Julius Erving Award, bestowed annually to the best small forward across Division I men’s hoops, seem to agree. On Wednesday, Hughes got named as one of 10 finalists for the award, and that recognition for him is absolutely well-deserved.
In case you’re wondering, the other nine contenders are Boise State’s Derrick Alston Jr., Florida State’s Devin Vassell, Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert, Louisville’s Jordan Nwora, Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa, Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle, Vermont’s Anthony Lamb, Villanova’s Saddiq Bey and Xavier’s Naji Marshall.
A huge congrats to all of these stars!
Beyond Hughes’ average of 19.4 points per contest, he is collecting 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.2 steals a game, while connecting on 42.6 percent from the field, 80.6 percent from the charity stripe and 35.9 percent from beyond the arc. Those are tremendous numbers if you ask me.
Despite these accomplishments, I believe that Hughes got shafted earlier this week when he did not receive inclusion on the late-season top-20 watch list for the 2020 John R. Wooden Award Men’s Player of the Year. Don’t get me wrong, the guys under consideration for the Wooden trophy are absolute studs, but I simply can’t see how Hughes isn’t one of the 20 finalists.
As far as the Julius Erving Award goes, my gut tells me that Hughes likely won’t capture this honor. For one, a pair of dudes for whom he is competing, Bey and Nwora, also remain in the running for the Wooden hardware. That’s not a great sign.
Secondly, Bey, Nwora and several other Erving finalists are presently suiting up for squads that are having much better terms than the Orange to date. Bey’s Villanova unit, for example, is a top-10 crew and battling Seton Hall for first place in the Big East Conference regular-stanza race.
Within the ACC, Nwora of Louisville and Vassell of Florida State would possibly get the nod over Hughes, too, since each of those groups is in the top 10 of the major polls. Plus, the Cardinals are at the head of the league, and the Seminoles are tied with Duke for second place, one game behind Louisville.
The ‘Cuse, as we all know, is hovering on the unhappy side of the bubble for a potential at-large invite to the 2020 NCAA Tournament. Certainly, if Hughes carries Syracuse on his back into March Madness, that could go a long way toward him gaining votes for the Julius Erving Award.
No matter what ultimately happens, every Orange fanatic out there, myself included, should feel proud of how Hughes is performing.