Syracuse dismisses Benny Williams from team: What’s next for the Orange?

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Syracuse has dismissed junior Benny Williams from its men’s basketball team, the program announced Tuesday.

Williams, a 6-foot-9 forward, was previously suspended for Syracuse’s first two games of the season (and an exhibition before that) for violations of team rules.

“Everyone involved with the program wishes Benny the best,” Syracuse wrote in a statement.

Williams was averaging 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game off the bench for the Orange. He had seven points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two turnovers in his final game with the team, a 29-point loss to Wake Forest on Saturday. First-year Syracuse coach Adrian Autry apologized to the program’s fans after that defeat, saying the loss was “unacceptable” and that performances like that “won’t be tolerated.” Autry doubled down on his frustration on Monday’s ACC coaches teleconference.

Williams — a four-star, top-50 recruit out of high school — will have one season of eligibility remaining, should he continue to pursue college basketball.

Syracuse (14-8, 5-6 ACC) next hosts Louisville on Wednesday.

What happened with Williams?

When Williams first enrolled at Syracuse, it was seen as a significant recruiting victory for the program, especially in what turned out to be the twilight of Jim Boeheim’s career. But for all the physical gifts Williams had, he never seemed to put everything together with the Orange. If anything, Williams regressed from his sophomore campaign, earning fewer minutes and opportunities under Autry, despite entering the season as a projected starter. His suspension earlier this season hinted at some maturity issues, which is the exact opposite of what a young team — 287th in Division-I experience, per KenPom — needed.

What’s next for Syracuse?

Despite his shortcomings, strictly from a roster construction perspective, Williams was a key piece of Autry’s first team. The Orange simply don’t have a ton of size, especially not with 7-foot-4 Florida State transfer Naheem McLeod now out for the season. The Orange were already using 6-foot-8 forward Maliq Brown as a center, and with Williams out of the picture, that size discrepancy is only going to look worse.

Expect Autry to lean more heavily on 6-foot-6 Quadir Copeland in the frontcourt in Williams’ absence. The rookie coach unfortunately doesn’t have many options. Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament hopes are already likely gone, so Williams’ departure doesn’t change things there; it just makes life even more difficult for Autry and the undersized roster he still has.

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(Photo: Rich Barnes / USA Today)

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