Josiah McCall failed to recognize the game of his former teammate Elijah Hughes when his city of Beacon, New York, met to watch national television games during Hughes’ first season playing for the men’s basketball team by Syracuse Orange.
McCall knew his face, though: “ugly” as he jokingly wrote in his hometown’s group chat whenever HD cameras zoomed in on Hughes’ cup. He saw it for the first time when Penny, Elia’s mother, was babysitting McCall. Hughes and McCall eventually joined together to play CYO circles.
“It was hell to get the ball from him,” McCall recalled in August 2019. “He wasn’t trying to give up on anyone … now he thinks it’s Ray Allen or something. He wants to shoot three fools. He crossed several crazy phases “.
People who have known Hughes for the longest time have seen him move from a dominant role as a child’s ball to a pure tip guard in tenth grade. He played ball alongside Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett six years later, firing 6.9 three per game compared to 3.9 inside the arch – Orange’s target shooting specialist.
Departures have raised uncertainty. How would Syracuse’s main remaining scoring threat thrive? With Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett and Frank Howard all gone, he would have been forced to dribble, pass and get more defensive attention.
It didn’t matter: Hughes led ACC in the score (19.0 PPG), matched his 2018-19 real shot percentage (56%) despite the extra attention and provided nearly two more assists per game. The conference named him to his first team, another seamless transition to a new role that will send Hughes to his next adaptation: the NBA.
Hughes’ career span was strange while he was on the hill.
During his first season – a mandatory red shirt as a transfer to East Carolina – he practiced walk-ons and felt distant. He knew he could fire as the Orange launched towards Omaha and Sweet 16, where they faced offense-hungry Duke with an average of less than 60 points.
He joined the same team, only Howard and Brissett regressed with Hughes’ score unable to compensate for the difference. He provided 25 points in the NCAA tournament against Baylor – a team that turned out to be underperforming even in the regular season, given its AP # status. 1 in the following season.
“I’ve always had a heart attack. It doesn’t matter where I’m on the field,” he said. “I had a lot of space, many shots to do. So most of my shots were three. But I worked to put the ball on the floor and play games for me and the others. ”
The lack of attention that Hughes received increased as he remembered in August. Once overlooked during the same audition to which Howard, Matthew Moyer and Cam Reddish participated in the Dome, every preview of the team that read Orange would come until the player who passed as a high schooler would take them.
Silly videos soon emerged, “duh duh duh” voiced on Hughes while zooming in on Robert Braswell in his Instagram stories. No teammate was safe from clowns. Hughes’ subtle humor engulfed the room, but his commitment to the game provided a singular stability that the team hadn’t had recently.
“Use your voice a little more,” said Hughes. “Understanding what you’re doing is being watched, both on and off the pitch. So just be careful of this. If I’m acting a madman off the pitch, other guys think it’ll be nice to play a crazy guy.”
The celebrations to strum the guitar have flowed and the staredowns have met all the mobile cameras. No opponent allowed them to deceive them. As Matthew Gutierrez of The Athletic reported, the Oakland scouting supported Hughes’ claim to be filming from anywhere. He has never gone beyond his iconic hit since 2019 in Duke’s troubled who demonstrated that range.
Three defenders stood around him 75 feet from the basket, while throwing a calculated shot that was to avoid the game board overhead. He earned three points in a four-point victory.
Hughes defined himself instead for his stability in 2020. Orange would probably have finished 13-8 in the ACC game without his injuries against NC State and Miami. Elijah has contributed heavily in every other game – still the best 6 and 6 foot blocker I’ve ever seen – while building an offense among the 25 best (for KenPom) largely through himself, Buddy Boeheim and Joseph Girard III.
Wayne Hughes does not remember that his son was ever visibly angry. He felt more frustrated about Elijah’s circumstances because of his growth in basketball than Eli, who exuded the mantra What can we do? That same energy sounded for the highs. Hughes followed his best performances by asking which one will be next.
So it’s no surprise that he took the opportunity to play professional basketball after one of the best individual Orange seasons of this century. Coach Boeheim – usually discourages his non-lottery players from moving on at a time – simply threw an “Ave Maria” this time: they would have won the ACC with him.
It’s hard to believe given how it went last season, with transfers leaving and sparse substitutions. Hughes maintains an open mind in returning if the NBA’s Draft process produces results that he believes are unfavorable. This is also unlikely given not only his wide range of skills, but front offices increasingly interested in habits and personality types.
A few meters from his locker room, students gathered in the new SU Barnes Center to conduct a protest against Syracuse’s response to racist graffiti in November. The other players did not notice or avoid the problem, while Elder Boeheim initially defended the university.
Hughes, along with Jim’s son Buddy, recognized what was happening on their campus. If he wasn’t playing, Hughes said, he would have been in Barnes with them. Days later, Hughes and Buddy entered Barnes with Coach Boeheim to address the protesters.
If all that didn’t encapsulate his career in the SU, he made Hughes’ final against the Tar Heels. With the coronavirus spectrum above his head, Elijah dried two lane shots in 30 seconds which brought Syracuse out of 20 in UNC before the interval.
Fans stretched their arms to a maximum of five when he hit the locker room, but Hughes squeezed his arms to avoid them. Less than 24 hours later, the ACC canceled its tournament – Hughes’ SU career ended in a win that lacked purpose. His reaction on Twitter (a simple “Wow“) He seemed to be saying everything … about the circumstances and his last minutes in an orange shirt.