James Southerland: Stock Up
It goes without saying James Southerland can shoot the basketball. The 6’ 8” Senior Forward has hit 12 of the 15 threes he’s attempted through two games at the Big East Tournament, and he’s not done yet. Just five more and he’ll break the record of 16 held by Gerry McNamara, a former Orangeman, for most in a single tournament in history.
McNamara, now an assistant with Syracuse, said after Thursday’s win over Pittsburgh “I’ve got no problem with him breaking the record right now, as long as it’s my guy.” He couldn’t deny the fact that Southerland’s NBA Draft stock is rising with every shot, either, saying “James is gonna knock stuff down. I think the biggest thing is now he’s starting to develop with his intelligence. I think he understands what it means to be in the right position and that’s made a big, big difference.”
Southerland will certainly benefit from increased exposure in the conference tournament. He’s big, and he can shoot very well – who wouldn’t want to take a flyer on him? When he’s in a rhythm, there’s arguably no better shooter in the country. It was on full display Thursday against Pittsburgh, as he knocked down five of five threes to finish with 17 points. “I don’t know if I was thinking much,” he joked.
For the Senior from Bayside, NY, there’s no better way to go out than in the Garden. “It’s something a New York City kid dreams of,” he said of the sellout crowd, who let out roars comparable to those of Knicks’ fourth quarters. The seats were filled with Orange, and they will be again tomorrow, to cheer on #43 as he lets three after three fly.
Southerland might not be thinking about it, but he’s not only helping Syracuse win – he’s paving a path to the NBA. That’s something he can think about when it’s all over and he’s watching the tape of one of the most important conference tournaments in NCAA history. Hopefully for him, and the Orange, that tape will grow in length.