Inside Syracuse freshman forward Oshae Brissett’s rise to stardom

first_img Published on March 23, 2018 at 1:17 pm Contact Matthew: | @MatthewGut21 OMAHA, Neb. — After every Syracuse practice, Oshae Brissett grabs a basketball and walks over to a basket. Usually, in the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center. Recently, it’s in the gym of whatever city Syracuse is playing in — from Brooklyn to Dayton, to Detroit to Omaha. Associate head coach Adrian Autry always joins to offer pointers. For 30 to 45 minutes following every practice, Brissett just shoots. He hits 3s from the wing. Jumpers from the elbow. Pull-ups along the baseline. Shots off the dribble. Mostly, shots from beyond 17 feet out. There’s no clock to the routine. If the workout lasts an hour, it lasts an hour. The workouts feature just a ball, a basket and a goal, which is to become a more dynamic player by developing into a better deep shooter. That’s why Brissett began to re-train his shot and his approach. He knew he needed to change following the nonconference slate, because ACC defenses would sag off and limit drives. Not anymore. Brissett tweaked his shot by elevating his release point. He spread out his fingers to foster a more consistent follow through. When his shots hit the front of the rim in shootaround, he knows to lift more in the legs. When his shots go off the back of the rim, he knows he needs to relax. And he’s re-tooled his approach, learning when to drive with his explosive first step and when to rise into his shot. Brissett, Syracuse’s 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward and do-it-all playmaker, is a lead reason for why Syracuse has gone from bubble team headed straight for the NIT all the way to the Sweet 16. The 19-year-old landed on the back page of the New York Daily News last week, and he’s boosting his draft stock one dazzling play after another. The 11th-seeded Orange (23-13, 8-10 Atlantic Coast) will count on him Friday night against No. 2 seed Duke (28-7, 13-5) in the Sweet 16. “He’s just kept going. Kept going,” said Autry, who recruited Brissett. “He has a lot of tools and we recognized that right when he came in. To shoot it, drive it, he can do so much. The sky’s the limit for the kid, because he’s an unbelievable worker.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse’s NCAA Tournament run began in the First Four, when Oshae Brissett scored 23 points with 12 rebounds in a win over Arizona State. Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerFlashback to just before high school, summer of 2013, when Brissett told his parents he wanted to stay home in Mississauga, Ontario.“I was scared,” Brissett said before the season. “I didn’t want to go at all.”Brissett reluctantly left home for a chance to make it big. He enrolled at the Athlete Institute, about 30 miles from home. When you understand his workout regimen there, his more recent post-practice shootarounds make sense. He woke up at about 5:30 a.m. with Tony McIntyre, the father of former Syracuse star Tyler Ennis, to go to the gym and work on skills with a group that included current teammate Howard Washington. Brissett went to the gym two to three times per day.Brissett was somewhat overlooked and only two ACC schools — Boston College and Syracuse — offered him a scholarship. But Autry said he saw all that Brissett could bring: length, athleticism and a drive-first mentality that could make him a star at Syracuse. Autry has drilled him on finishing around the rim, perhaps Brissett’s least-skilled area, and he’s extending his range. “Because he’s done that,” Syracuse assistant coach Gerry McNamara said, “it’s blossomed and opened up his game to be more aggressive in all three areas, whether it be 3-point, midrange or getting all of the way to the rim.”Oshae Brissett has worked hard to refine his jump shot and keep defenses from sagging off him as his freshman season has gone on. Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerBrissett, whom several players said is the most improved player on the team this season, is averaging 17.7 points and 10 rebounds per game during the NCAA Tournament. He’s knocked down nine of his last 22 3-point attempts.Last week, Miles Bridges broke down his defensive game plan against Brissett. Bridges, a surefire NBA Draft pick in three months and likely All-American, guarded Brissett in several one-on-one matchups. He wanted to force Brissett left because “he goes right a lot.” Bridges bodied him up a few times, forcing off-balance shots and a couple of turnovers. Brissett committed five in the game. But his quiet 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting helped offset modest outputs from Tyus Battle and Frank Howard. “He’s aggressive, one of the more aggressive freshmen,” Bridges said after MSU lost 55-53 to SU. “We knew that coming in. I was trying to force him left. He still got past me right sometimes. He’s a great player.”Freshman forward Marek Dolezaj noted that if not for Brissett’s improved shot, the already-sputtering Syracuse offense would be sputtering even more. Brissett’s expanded game opens the floor for Dolezaj, he said, especially in the elbow and free-throw-line extended area. Dolezaj was only half joking when he said that he’s never not seen Brissett and Autry training on his shot after practice. Oshae Brissett matched up with likely NBA Draft first-round pick Miles Bridges on numerous occasions in Syracuse’s upset of Michigan State. Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerBrissett isn’t a perfect prospect. His finishing around the rim is suspect and even he admitted he can be much more consistent. He has struggled against top defenses, including that of Duke. He had just six points against the Blue Devils a month ago. For Syracuse to upset the Blue Devils on Friday night, Brissett knows he has to score the way he has.“I feel like I’ve played better than a lot of people thought I would,” Brissett said. “Just proving people wrong. A lot of you guys have been saying that it’s because I’m from Canada that no one knows who I am. But I think people know now.”Teammates alluded to him sticking around at least one more year, so 2017-18 is far from a make-or-break season. And yet there is a sense that this is the time he’s stepping forward. Arguably Syracuse’s most enthralling prospect is taking off on a big stage, posing a dangerous threat to opposing defenses.There’s a good chance Brissett will continue to blossom from somewhat overlooked high schooler to the spotlight of being a leading scorer on a team searching for a spot in the Elite Eight. It’s clear he projects to be performing in front of large crowds for years to come.“With Oshae,” McNamara said, “he’s really just scratching the surface.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more