Syracuse Basketball: With Joe Girard III news, backcourt is more uncertain

Syracuse basketball, Joe Girard III (Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball, Joe Girard III (Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

Syracuse basketball senior shooting guard Joe Girard III is likely done in Central New York, and most importantly, I want to thank him for his tenure on the Hill, and I also am wishing him nothing but success moving forward.

The 6-foot-1 Girard, out of Glens Falls, N.Y., said via social media on Friday that he would test the 2023 NBA Draft waters, while maintaining his collegiate eligibility and also entering his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal.

Girard could potentially return to the Orange, but my gut tells me that his career at the ‘Cuse is over. If that is, indeed, the case, he leaves Syracuse basketball as a top 20 all-time scorer in the history of this program. Not too shabby.

During the 2022-23 campaign, when the team finished at 17-15 overall, Girard led the Orange in scoring, at 16.4 points per game, to go along with 3.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds per encounter. This past season, he connected on 40.3 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from beyond the arc, and  85.7 percent from the free-throw line.

As a member of the ‘Cuse, Joe Girard III helped guide the squad to a Sweet 16 appearance in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. He has a four-year average of 13.2 points, 3.6 assists and 2.9 boards per game, while hitting on a collective 37.8 percent from the field, 36.3 percent from downtown, and 86.3 percent from the charity stripe.

Senior shooting guard Joe Girard III is likely done playing for Syracuse basketball.

Girard often got trashed on social media by some fans throughout his Orange career, and I often felt that criticism was unfair and, frankly, mean-spirited. In any event, as he moved from point guard to shooting guard in 2022-23, I believe he put forth his best stanza with the ‘Cuse, even if the team wasn’t all that good.

I can’t blame Joe Girard III for testing the 2023 NBA Draft waters. If he decides to stay in college for a fifth year granted by the NCAA due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I would certainly understand if he wanted to have a different collegiate environment by suiting up for a new squad.

Entering the 2022-23 term, Syracuse basketball had five scholarship guards – seniors Girard and Symir Torrence, along with freshmen Judah Mintz, Justin Taylor and Quadir Copeland.

Torrence is in the transfer portal. Mintz has declared for the 2023 NBA Draft while maintaining his college eligibility.

That leaves Taylor and Copeland. Taylor is a shooting guard/small forward. Copeland was recruited as a point guard but can also play on the wing as a small forward. Fellow freshman Chris Bell played small forward this past season, but given his shooting capabilities, I assume he could play shooting guard, too.

And not too long ago, Central New York native and talented guard J.J. Starling said he would transfer from Notre Dame to the Orange.

Let’s assume Girard, Torrence and Mintz all leave the program. This means the Syracuse basketball backcourt for the 2023-24 season, as it stands today, would consist of Starling, Taylor and Copeland, plus potentially Bell.

Having a four-guard rotation is certainly adequate for 2023-24, however, Starling is new to the program. Taylor, Copeland and Bell are all rising sophomores who saw their playing time ebb and flow this past season.

Plus, we’ll have to wait and see if any of those three guys opt to enter the transfer portal. If that does end up being the case, new head coach Adrian Autry and his assistants absolutely will have to hit the portal, and I bet they already are. This tweet is just one example.

To get back to Joe Girard III, a huge thank-you from Orange Nation for your time with Syracuse basketball. Much admiration, love and respect.

Next. Syracuse Basketball: Former 4-star Canadian recruit enters transfer portal. dark