Junior forward Elijah Hughes had a very productive season this past year for Syracuse. Despite the Orange not being much of an elite team in the ACC Conference, Hughes individually was able to make a huge leap this season as he continued to progress as the season went on.
Hughes was a lethal scoring threat this season. His evolution from a season ago forced him to be called upon to make plays per Jim Boehim. It was a rocky year for the Orange most of the season as they struggled against certain matchups. But with Hughes’ energy and tenacity on the court, he was also a difference maker in many games as well.
Hughes this season averaged 19 points per game while shooting 42% from the field. Throughout the season he was a difference maker on both ends of the floor being a scoring threat and also making stops on the defensive end. One thing that stuck out the most about Hughes’ game is that he understood how to make the right play on the fastbreak. He was very smart with the ball as could either get a good look around the basket or set a teammate up for an easy opportunity. Hughes’ high IQ for the game was important for his team and his teammates would feed off of his energy all season.
Throughout the season, Hughes has shown to scouts that he has the potential to play at an NBA elite level. On December 7 against Georgia Tech, Hughes tallied 33 points being scorching hot from behind the three point line with 6 made on the night. Many could see that Hughes was the driving force of this Syracuse team that night and on many other nights as well. When he was playing at an efficient level, his gave his team a much higher chance of winning on certain basis.
The Journey for Elijah Hughes has been a rocky one to say the least. He’s gone from averaging 7 points per game as a freshmen at East Carolina to being one of the enforcers for one of the best schools in college basketball history. The question now is where does the young prospect take his game from here? Does he continue to develop as a rising young talent in the NBA or does he become another what if?
Hughes declared for the NBA Draft via social media last month. To many insiders, Hughes’ performance this season has given him a very high chance of becoming a first round draft pick this summer. There is no question that Hughes is deserving of that position with the rest of the phenomenal talent coming out of the draft. But even though he has evolved tremendously, he does have much room to grow in his game to become the best player of his potential.
Hughes’ shooting efficiency can easily improve the more he continues to put in work. He improved his shooting this season with his 42% average along with shooting 34% from three point land. With Hughes’ offensive talent, that can easily be an improvement as he transitions to the professional level. If Hughes can be more efficient on the offensive end than he was this past season, he can easily become a great scorer in the NBA in given time.
There are many teams in the draft that could use a guy of Hughes’ caliber. NBA teams in Detroit, Orlando, or others could possibly use a shot creator who brings much energy on both ends of the floor. Wherever he lands in the NBA Draft, Hughes just has to make sure to continue to put in work to gain the trust of his teammates and the coaching staff when it’s time to play.
There is a lot of hype on Elijah Hughes and it is well deserved. He has overcame a lot as a collegiate player to be put in the position that he is in now. Can he make the quick transition from college to the pros? That is an answer Hughes will have to answer to the world when his opportunity comes to him once his NBA career begins.