Syracuse Basketball: Jim Boeheim remarks on Benny Williams over the top

Jim Boeheim, Benny Williams (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Jim Boeheim, Benny Williams (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

I love Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim, and the same goes for freshman forward Benny Williams.

Boeheim is a legend in the sport of collegiate hoops. His resume doesn’t need to be rehashed here. And I almost always appreciate and respect his candidness, openness and focus on not sugarcoating things.

As for the 6-foot-8 Williams, he’s got tons of potential. He’s a hard-working young man. We follow each other on Twitter, and he just seems like a nice human being. I want him to thrive on the Hill.

Williams was a five-star, top-25 prospect in the 2021 recruiting cycle who hails from Bowie, Md., and attended the powerhouse IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., a stanza ago.

He is one of the highest-rated recruits for the ‘Cuse program in recent history. I am thoroughly confident that Williams is going to have a bright and productive Orange career. So far, though, he definitely appears to be adjusting to the collegiate level.

Syracuse basketball boss Jim Boeheim didn’t hold back regarding freshman Benny Williams.

Following the team’s thrilling three-point victory at Florida State on Saturday, Boeheim was asked in his post-game press conference about Williams.

The freshman forward, by the way, registered two minutes of court time versus the Seminoles, according to a box score on ESPN’s Web site. He attempted, and missed, one 3-pointer, and that was about it.

"According to an article from SyracuseOnSI publisher Mike McAllister, here’s what Boeheim had to say about Williams. “He’s just standing there. He’s got to do something. He had two great chances to go get a ball and he just didn’t do it. We have to win. We’ll play the guys that can help us win. There’s a lot of freshmen around the country that aren’t playing. Top 10 players. UCLA has one, (Peyton) Watson. Gonzaga’s got two, (Hunter) Sallis and another kid. Villanova has two top recruits from last year, (Trey) Patterson and the other kid they had. They’re not playing. Sometimes freshmen aren’t ready. He’s just not ready right now. Just got to keep working hard and we’ll see if we can find spots for him.”"

Through the Orange’s first eight games (5-3, 1-0), Williams is averaging 15.5 minutes per contest, according to his bio on the ESPN Web site. From that bio, you’ll see that Williams isn’t doing a ton at this juncture.

I think part of the issue here is that the expectations for Williams during his freshman campaign were pretty lofty. He was highly ranked in high school, but like virtually every other recruit who has arrived in Central New York over the past 15 to 20 years, Williams is not the second coming of Carmelo Anthony. No one is.

In Boeheim’s rotation, Williams is the third forward in line behind the starters, graduate student Jimmy Boeheim and senior Cole Swider. Frankly, if Williams can average 15 to 20 minutes of run a game, I’d be thrilled with that.

I know that Jim Boeheim tells it as he sees it, and I respect him for that. And, yes, Williams’ development is understandably a work in progress. But he’s assumingly, what, 18 or 19 years old?

Did the Syracuse basketball head coach need to take his comments on Williams that far? Surely, Boeheim could have said that Williams isn’t quite ready to play major minutes and left it at that.

Again, I love Jim Boeheim. Always have, always will. It just seemed, to me, that some of his additional commentary about Benny Williams could have stayed inside the locker room.

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