Syracuse Basketball: Benny Williams return is huge as foes to get tougher

Syracuse basketball, Benny Williams (Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball, Benny Williams (Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

Syracuse basketball junior forward Benny Williams is back with the Orange, and that’s big time as the ‘Cuse upcoming schedule intensifies in the early part of the 2023-24 season.

In a post on X from Syracuse basketball on Friday afternoon, the team said, “Benny Williams has returned to all activities with the Syracuse Men’s Basketball program.”

On November 1, Syracuse basketball said on X, “Benny Williams has been suspended from the team for a violation of team rules. He is expected to rejoin the program soon.”

Earlier this week on the Hill, in the first two games with Adrian Autry as the Orange’s head coach, the ‘Cuse defeated non-conference foes New Hampshire and Canisius by double-digits, and the 6-foot-9, 210-pound Williams missed both of those encounters.

Junior forward Benny Williams has returned to the Syracuse basketball program.

I want to say one thing here. When I was covering the New Hampshire and Canisius games in recent days, I saw a lot of unfortunate comments on social media from some of my fellow Orange hoops fanatics.

These comments included trashing Williams, making ignorant, speculative comments about him and why he was suspended, and declaring that Benny Williams was done in Central New York.

While I always appreciate and will respect other fans’ opinions and takes, these negative comments were disappointing to see. We all were frustrated that Williams was suspended from the ‘Cuse, and we all were frustrated that Syracuse basketball coaches weren’t saying much at all about why he was suspended and when he would return.

But the baseless comments and rumor-floating I found to be uncalled for, but I guess it’s a moot point now with Benny Williams having returned.

His coming back is critical. Up next, on November 14, the Orange will host Colgate, and the Raiders have defeated Syracuse basketball on two consecutive occasions at the Dome.

In the near future, the ‘Cuse also has rough competition looming at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in Honolulu, at home versus LSU in the ACC/SEC Challenge, at Virginia, at Georgetown, versus Oregon in Sioux Falls, S.D., versus Pittsburgh and then at Duke at the beginning of 2024.

I’ll be curious to see whether Autry has Benny Williams in the starting line-up against Colgate or in other near-term affairs. As I noted in a column on Friday morning, sophomore wing Justin Taylor, having replaced Williams in the starting rotation at forward, has played quite well in the team’s first two regular-season games.

But as the competition gets bigger, literally and figuratively, the Orange is going to need Williams’ presence on both ends of the floor, as it pertains to scoring, defense and rebounding. Yes, the ‘Cuse won each of its first two encounters by 10 points or more, but at the same time, Syracuse basketball is allowing 75 points per game, which is problematic moving forward.

As a sophomore during the 2022-23 season, Benny Williams averaged about 22 minutes, seven points and four rebounds per contest, while hitting on a strong 39.6 percent from the 3-point line, in somewhat limited attempts.

Autry, along with numerous national and ACC pundits, prognosticated that Williams was primed for a huge junior season on the Hill. The Bowie, Md., native was a five-star, top-25 national prospect in the 2021 recruiting class, according to

I’m so excited to see that Benny Williams has returned to the Syracuse basketball squad. He will be a pivotal piece as the Orange looks to return to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year absence.

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