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Syracuse’s most important player has been ‘very solid’ through exhibition games

Carleton v Syracuse

Getty Images

Getty Images

Kaleb Joseph was recruited by Syracuse to be the backup to Tyler Ennis. However, Ennis’ freshman season ended the same as the ones for Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Aaron Gordon with an early entry for the NBA Draft.

This puts enormous pressure on the 6-foot-3 freshman entering the 2014-15 season, as he is the only true point guard for the Orange. He is a taller and more athletic guard than Ennis. Joseph is also an absolute gym rat, whether it be at his home in Nashua, New Hampshire or during his time at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, where and UConn commit Jalen Adams won back-to-back championships. And through two exhibition games, the early reports have been positive.

“He’s gotta be a little more aggressive,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said after Monday’s scrimmage, via Donna Ditota of “The first half, he had some opportunities. He’s gotta look to score when the opportunities are there. And I think he will. But he’s played very solid. I think he’ll find his opportunities. In the second half, he did. He’s had a couple good exhibition games.”

His stat line in those two preseason games:

vs. Carleton: 19 points, four boards, four assists, one turnover (26 minutes)

vs. Adrian: nine points, six boards, four assists, one turnover (27 minutes)

A good rule is you shouldn’t put too much stock in the preseason (good or bad), especially in the case of Adrian College (Michigan), a Division III program. But Carleton is Canadian powerhouse, winners of the last four CIS titles and 10 of the last 12. This summer, the Scrubb brothers, Phillip and Thomas, torched the young Memphis perimeter en route to a pair of victories in a three-day span.

ACC play will undoubtedly challenge the first-year point with a conference filled with talented guards from top to bottom. Joseph will also be tested in the non-conference against the likes of Ryan Arcidiacono, Rysheed Jordan, Derrick Walton and potentially Isaiah Taylor -- all in the first five weeks of the season.

Joseph’s development will be one to track for Syracuse all season long, and it continues on Friday night in the regular season opener against Kennesaw State inside the Carrier Dome.

Follow @terrence_payne