Syracuse Basketball: J.J. Starling consistently scoring, strong on the glass

Syracuse basketball, J.J. Starling (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball, J.J. Starling (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

Through the Orange’s first three games of the 2023-24 season, all wins at home, Syracuse basketball sophomore guard J.J. Starling has proven a consistent and reliable scorer, as well as a guy who is more than holding his own on the glass.

Rebounding has proven an arena where the ‘Cuse needs work, evidenced by Colgate holding a 44-32 edge over Syracuse basketball on the boards this past Tuesday night, although the Orange was able to mount a massive comeback and ultimately defeat the Raiders, 79-75.

The 6-foot-4, 206-pound Starling, who hails from nearby Baldwinsville, N.Y., and transferred to the ‘Cuse this off-season after spending his freshman term at fellow Atlantic Coast Conference squad Notre Dame, did his part on the glass versus Colgate.

In that four-point win, the former five-star, top-25 national prospect in the 2022 class collected 13 points, a team-high seven rebounds and four assists.

J.J. Starling has a strong frame for a guard. He’s athletic and quick, with a terrific ability to push the ball out in transition after the Orange secures a defensive rebound or forces a turnover. What’s more, Starling, similar to sophomore point guard Judah Mintz, is proficient at using his adept ball-handling skills and speed to find his way into the paint and score around the rim on offense.

Early on in 2023-24, sophomore guard J.J. Starling has proven solid for Syracuse basketball.

I acknowledge that the Orange has only played three non-conference contests at this juncture in the current term, but at the same time, I’m encouraged by what Starling, by and large, has done on the court so far.

He’s averaging a team-high 36.7 minutes per affair, which is also near the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference. J.J. Starling is averaging 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, against just 1.7 turnovers per encounter. That’s a pretty good assist-to-turnover ratio, by the way.

His scoring is No. 3 on the Syracuse basketball roster. His rebounding is tied for No. 2 on the Orange. And his assists are No. 2 on the ‘Cuse.

What’s more, J.J. Starling has scored in double-figures in every single Syracuse basketball contest to date, and he’s also corralled at least five rebounds in all three games.

Now, where Starling needs to improve is with his shooting percentages. He’s hitting on 40.0 percent from the field, 11.1 percent from beyond the arc and 63.6 percent from the free-throw line.

As a freshman for a struggling Fighting Irish group in 2022-23, J.J. Starling averaged 11.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists per encounter, while connecting on 42.1 percent from the field, 29.9 percent from downtown and 63.8 percent from the charity stripe. He and Mintz, last season, were both named to the ACC’s All-Freshman team.

Starling and Mintz, to me, will prove one of the country’s top backcourts in 2023-24, and I’m confident that J.J. Starling will see his shooting percentages increase as the current stanza carries onward.

He’s dependable and reliable. That bodes well for the Orange, especially as some heavyweight battles lurk on the horizon. For a squad that has been sub-par on the glass, the Central New York native Starling has undeniably proven a bright spot.

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