It’s rare when to see a Division I basketball player play in three of the five equity conferences. However, that’s exactly what Andrew White III has done: Kansas (2012-14), Nebraska (2014-16) and now Syracuse.
White is more than just a well-traveled man, though. He’s an undeniably great shooter and will be a major factor for an Orange team that will look to make a return trip to the Final Four in 2017.
Expectations are always high for Syracuse, but with the return a lot of key pieces, including blue-chip NBA prospect Tyler Lydon, this could be a special team.
White, a former 4-star recruit, is the perfect addition to complement the returning talent. After playing only sparse minutes his first two seasons at Kansas (238 total), White blossomed following a redshirt year at Nebraska. Last season, White ripped nets all across the Big Ten. He launched 6.2 three-pointers per game and connected on 41.2 percent (fifth in the Big Ten) of his attempts from distance, blending volume with efficiency.
White finished second and seventh, respectively, in the Big Ten in effective field-goal shooting (58.9 percent) and true shooting rate (61.5 percent). Those are two blistering percentages; according to Ken Pomeroy, they both ranked inside the top 110 nationally.
Those numbers demonstrate how efficient of a shooter White is from all over the court, including the foul line (77.5 percent). Overall, he shot 48.1 percent from the field, which ranked second in the Big Ten; for a high-usage wing (25.9 percent usage rate), these are fantastic metrics.
Pomeroy’s data had White at an impressive offensive rating of 118.1 points per 100 possessions last season, which was No. 180 in the nation. His top-to-bottom efficiency is aided by his 13.1 percent turnover rate.
If the numbers alone don’t inspire confidence for fans of the Orange, Jim Boeheim made sure to drive the point home at the ACC’s Operation Basketball event: “Andrew White is a very good basketball player. He’s a mature kid. He’s 23 years old. They call him ‘Unc’ on our team, Uncle Drew. Obviously he’s a very, very good shooter, but he’s a good player.”
Boeheim, who noted that White might be one of the best shooters Syracuse has ever had, added that he’s a good defender and rebounder, too. This is all lofty praise coming from a man who has been coaching at the school — in some capacity — since 1969.
In recent years, Syracuse has had success with two other transfers who arrived from major conference: Wes Johnson and Michael Gbinije. After two productive seasons at Iowa State (58 games, 12.3 points, 6.1 rebounds), Johnson left Ames for Syracuse. During his one season in an Orange uniform, Johnson was the best player (offensive rating of 115.7) for a team that won 30 games before being upset in the Sweet 16 by national runner-up Butler. He was selected No. 4 overall in the 2010 NBA Draft and is still active in the league — currently a member of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Gbinije was slightly different. He played sparingly while at Duke in 2011-12 — 19 games, 111 minutes. However, Gbinije blossomed while at Syracuse. He scored 1,144 of his 1,177 career points as a member of the Orange. In 2015-16, he scored 17.5 points per game and become one of the ACC’s premier deep threats. The 91 three-pointers he made (39.2 percent) were the third-most in the conference. He also led the ACC in minutes played and steals. Gbinije now plays for the Detroit Pistons.
White, of course, is not the only transfer Syracuse will suit up this season: John Gillon has also arrived from Colorado State. Gillon, who averaged 13.2 points last season, is expected to have an impact this year as well.