• Ryan Costello

Elijah Hughes Got Robbed

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

...Not literally.

Yesterday, the finalists for the NCAA’s Julius Erving Award were announced and Syracuse’s star small forward, Elijah Hughes, didn’t make the cut.

The Julius Erving Award is given out to the best small forward in the NCAA on the division one level. Last year the winner was Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura, who’s now the Washington Wizards’ starting power forward.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Elijah Hughes has had an amazing year for a Syracuse team who failed to take advantage of games against bad teams, and failed to finish strong against teams in must-win games. Hughes ended the 2018-19 season with a statline of 13.7 points per game, 1.5 assists per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, a 42% field goal percentage, a 51.1% two-point percentage, and a 36.9% three-point percentage in his first year as a transfer.

Hughes improved upon that in his senior year by finishing the regular season averaging 19.1 points, 3.6 assists and five rebounds per game. He also finished with shooting percentages such as a 42.8% FG percentage, 51.1% 2PT percentage, and a 34.1% 3PT percentage. He was also the leading scorer in the ACC during the 2019-20 regular season.

I feel most people would see that and wonder how he didn’t finish as a finalist for the Julius Erving Award after seeing such an amazing statline. And I’m going to have to admit, I’m wondering the same thing. Let’s take a look at how Hughes stats match up with those of the finalists, be ready for a statistical wet dream.

The only other small forward from the ACC worth making the list is Louisville junior Jordan Nwora. Nwora currently sits at second in the ACC in scoring, sitting behind the aforementioned Elijah Hughes. Jordan Nwora is averaging 18 points per game as well as 1.3 assists and 7.6 rebounds per game, very respectable. He is also making 44.3% of his shots as well as 47.6% of his two-pointers and 40% of his three-pointers. He is also playing seven less minutes per game than Elijah Hughes.

I completely understand why Nwora is a finalist for the award and I have no arguments against him being considered, good work bud.

Image courtesy of memphisflyer.com

Next on the list is Memphis small forward, Precious Achiuwa, a freshman at the university. Achiuwa is having an amazing year as a freshman and has lottery pick potential in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft. He has a .500 FG%, .521 2PT%, and a .314 3PT%. He’s also averaging 15.5 points, 0.9 assists and 10.4 rebounds per game. Oh did I mention he’s only playing 29 minutes per game too, which is eight less than Hughes and three less than Nwora.

Precious Achiuwa is another player I think belongs on the list, even though he’s not passing the ball much; or just not much of an assist guy. Averaging a double-double is hard enough, but as a freshman is even more impressive. He also has a higher overall shooting percentage and two-point percentage than Elijah Hughes, so congrats man.

Next, we have Corey Krispert of the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Krispert is a junior at Gonzaga, and as you can imagine he plays small forward.

Image courtesy of The Spokesman-Review

I don’t think Krispert deserves to be a finalist for the Julius Erving award, and I think his numbers for the 2019-20 season will explain it completely. Corey Krispert is currently averaging 14.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game this season. All three of those categories are WORSE than what Elijah Hughes averaged in the regular season. Krispert doesn’t even crack the top ten in scoring for the West Coast Conference.

Krispert also shot 48.2% from the field this season and shot 53.2% from two-point range and 44.3% from three-point range in the year of our lord 2020. Those percentages are very impressive and better than Hughes, yes, but I feel when you’re shooting that well those numbers should translate to more points per game. I also understand Corey Krispert has the WCC’s number three scorer, Filip Petrusev, on the floor with him every game; but his scoring and rebounding hurts him in my eyes.

After my analysis of Corey Krispert I must say, Elijah Hughes should’ve taken your spot as a Julius Erving Award finalist.

Saddiq Bey follows Krispert on the finalist for the award. We all know what position Bey plays, but did you know he’s a sophomore at Villanova? Maybe.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Saddiq Bey has had an all-around solid season for the Wildcats this year. He’s averaging 16 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists this year, again, respectable numbers. Bey’s also hot 47.5% this year, as well as 44.7% from beyond the arc and 50% in the point and from mid-range.

I don’t have anything negative to say about Saddiq Bey’s performance this season. I think he belongs as a finalist as one of the best small forwards in college basketball, but I definitely don’t think he’ll be crowned number one in the future.

Finally, for the final finalist of the great award mentioned so many times already is Naji Marshall from Xavier. Marshall is finishing out his junior year with the team and has had an all-around good season too.

Let’s take a peak at these stats. Naji Marshall scores 16.8 points per game while also having 6.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. He shoots a .446 FG%, .522 2PT% and a .310 3PT%, not great outside the arc.

Marshall has had an above average season for the Musketeers, who are a potential bubble team for the NCAA Tournament this year. Xavier’s chances are probably slim because of many of their conference losses to some of the Big East’s best teams.

I think Naji Marshall belongs on the list and I don’t disagree with whoever committee is on this decision. His three-point percentage is highly questionable though, especially when it’s becoming one the most important facets of the game today.

In the end, Elijah Hughes was snubbed of being a finalist for the Julius Erving Award, he had an amazing season as a member of the Syracuse Orangemen, and should’ve most definetly made the list over fucking Corey Krispert.

I think one of the factors that hurt Hughes is his injury before the North Carolina State matchup and another one might be Syracuse’s garbage season, even though they went on a five game win streak in mid-January. If record and wins were the case then maybe Naji Marshall shouldn’t be on their either

I also think Hughes scoring should be taken into consideration since it’s the highest out of all five players named.

Elijah Hughes was snubbed, the end.

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