Syracuse Basketball: At forward, playing time is absolutely up for grabs

By the time that this article publishes, Syracuse basketball 2021 four-star target Arthur Kaluma may have already selected his collegiate destination.

If the rumblings on social media and in chat rooms proved correct, the 6-foot-8 power forward likely went with another squad besides the Orange. That’s at least the prognostication from a bevy of ‘Cuse fanatics in recent days.

SyracuseOnSI publisher Mike McAllister recently had posted an article that discussed those in the mix for Kaluma as primarily Arizona, the Orange, Creighton and Washington. Kaluma is a senior at Dream City Christian School in Glendale, Ariz., and a top-50 prospect across the country in the 2021 cycle.

Regardless of what his ultimate decision comes to be, or was, the topic of immediate playing time has proven a recurring discussion surrounding Kaluma’s recruitment.

But for a lot of Syracuse basketball fans, this theme has a broader context, and some of these fans are pretty adamant that head coach Jim Boeheim’s rotation for next season is already set, even if the upcoming campaign is many months away.

Syracuse basketball forwards will all have to earn their minutes in 2021–22.

As we look ahead to the 2021–22 stanza, Kaluma aside, the ‘Cuse has three forwards in its line-up. They are 2021 five-star commit Benny Williams out of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., along with Cornell transfer Jimmy Boeheim and Villanova transfer Cole Swider.

All three of them are talented and bring a variety of skills to the team. But keep in mind that Williams is a high-school senior. Boeheim didn’t play a season ago. And Swider averaged about 19 minutes per contest for Villanova in 2020-21.

Yet I’ve come across a large contingent of Orange fans who are certain that Boeheim will start and get 30-plus minutes a game. Maybe he will, and maybe he won’t.

Some folks, though, are basing this assumption on Boeheim’s last name, and the fact that his brother, junior shooting guard Buddy Boeheim, averaged about 36 minutes per affair a term ago.

Well, Buddy Boeheim, after dealing with a rough Covid-19 infection, was lights-out in the second half of 2020-21. He deserved those minutes. Plus, Jim Boeheim isn’t just going to play his sons because they’re his sons. He wants to win.

I could see Jimmy Boeheim, Swider and Williams all contending for a starting nod at forward. Heck, maybe even Boeheim could play some center. They all have the potential to receive run of 25-plus minutes in 2021–22.

Since they’re all new to the ‘Cuse program, I contend that playing time is up for grabs. I respect my fellow Orange fanatics, but this ongoing focus on Jim Boeheim playing favorites with his sons is non-sense, in my humble opinion.

Buddy Boeheim deserves his minutes. We will have to wait and see regarding Jimmy Boeheim. He’s got a battle on his hands with Swider and Williams. From my perspective, absolutely nothing is set in stone at the forward spots.