Syracuse Basketball: Would be huge if Chance Westry returns next month

Syracuse basketball, Chance Westry (Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball, Chance Westry (Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports) /

Syracuse basketball head coach Adrian Autry recently said via Cuse Sports Talk that he’s “hopeful” to have sophomore guard Chance Westry back “sometime in January,” and that would prove fantastic if it indeed occurs.

The 6-foot-6, 190-pound Westry, a transfer from Auburn who hails from Harrisburg, Pa., has been sidelined for the entire 2023-24 regular season to date. The Orange (6-3) was set to travel to long-time rival Georgetown for a Saturday afternoon battle in our nation’s capital.

In late October, prior to the 2023-24 term getting underway, Syracuse basketball said in a post on X, “Chance Westry suffered a lower body injury in practice on Thursday that will require a procedure. He will be out indefinitely.”

That was unfortunate news, particularly since Westry only appeared in 11 games for Auburn as a freshman in the 2022-23 campaign due to a knee injury. Westry, in mid-September, said in part during an interview with TJ Smith of PennLive, “I’m ready to play the best basketball of my life” in 2023-24.

Should Chance Westry come back soon, that would be big for Syracuse basketball.

Myself and others who follow the Orange have noted on plenty of occasions that the ‘Cuse 2023-24 roster has plenty of depth, especially in the backcourt. Yet to me, Syracuse basketball could really benefit from Chance Westry returning to the team’s line-up, sooner rather than later.

For one, he’s a versatile, two-way player. Westry can suit up at point guard and also at small forward out on the wing. He’s not known for his 3-point shooting, although in all honesty, the vast majority of the Orange 2023-24 roster has struggled from deep so far in the current season, save for sophomore point guard Judah Mintz and sophomore forward Chris Bell.

Chance Westry has excellent court vision and playmaking abilities. He’s a terrific athlete, and he gets after it on the defensive end, which is paramount for this Syracuse basketball squad. I say this, because ahead of its non-conference bruiser with the Hoyas on Saturday afternoon, the Orange was allowing a sub-par 71.1 points per game on defense.

What’s more, if Westry is able to come back sometime in January, that would come as the ‘Cuse settles into the heart of its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule. The Orange already has two non-conference losses and a few challenging out-of-conference contests remaining on the docket, so I believe that Syracuse basketball will need to put forth a fairly good showing in its ACC slate to have a realistic chance of hearing its name called on Selection Sunday following a two-year absence from the NCAA Tournament.

Regarding Westry, he would provide additional depth at multiple positions. Mintz and Bell have proven solid thus far this season. Sophomore wing Justin Taylor has shined at times, but he’s also struggled with his shot. The same goes for sophomore guard J.J. Starling.

Junior forward Benny Williams has already missed a couple of games, and he didn’t play at all the last time out, when the Orange beat Cornell earlier this week at the JMA Wireless Dome.

Sophomore big man Maliq Brown is fairly reliable. I’d like to see more from junior center Naheem McLeod. Sophomore guard Quadir Copeland has shown flashes of brilliance, but he’s also a tad turnover-prone.

Redshirt sophomore guard Kyle Cuffe Jr. hasn’t been super impactful. Junior center Mounir Hima and sophomore big man Peter Carey have barely played, while freshman center William Patterson hasn’t logged any action at this juncture in 2023-24.

My point here is that especially with Williams appearing to be a question mark in the ‘Cuse rotation, the team could really use Westry, even if they don’t play the same positions, per se.

Chance Westry was a four-star, top-40 national prospect in the 2022 class coming out of high school, and it’s a bummer that his collegiate career has been significantly hindered by injuries to date. My fingers are crossed that he joins the Syracuse basketball line-up next month and makes an impact for the Orange right away.

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