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Joe Girard will return to Syracuse basketball

Syracuse basketball guard Joe Girard will reportedly be back in Central New York for his third season next winter. Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com broke the news, citing two anonymous sources “with knowledge of Girard’s intentions.”

Girard becomes the second Orange player expected to return for the 2021-22 season, joining fellow starter in the backcourt Buddy Boeheim. Three of the team’s 10 other scholarship players have entered the transfer portal in freshman point guard Kadary Richmond, redshirt sophomore forward Robert Braswell and redshirt freshman center John Bol Ajak. Sophomore forward Quincy Guerrier plans to test the NBA waters.

With the expected passing of the one-time transfer rule, it’s no longer a given that any player will stay at a school over the course of the offseason.

“When you go in(to an offseason) with 12 guys, three or four guys are going to leave automatically because eight guys are going to play,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said during a radio interview on Monday. “So you know you’re going to lose three or four guys. Now, you’re losing guys who actually play, but maybe didn’t get the ball enough or maybe didn’t play enough. So, that’s what’s going to happen and you just have to be prepared.”

Girard averaged 9.8 points and a team-high 3.5 assists per game this winter, though usage dropped about 16 percent. He played 27.7 minutes per game after running 33 in his first year on campus.

Girard’s shooting efficiency improved sightly, ticking up to 35.5 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from deep, though he dropped 11.4 points at the foul line to 78. And his turnover rate rose from 1.9 to 2.1 despite playing fewer minutes.

Richmond gradually ate into Girard’s role before suffering a knee injury during the final month of the season.

“He just hasn’t played well,’’ Jim Boeheim said after SU’s loss at Duke on Feb. 22. “That’s what’s going on. The stats are right there. He hasn’t played well.’’

Girard did turn in a couple of his best shooting performances in the NCAA Tournament, nailing seven triples on 16 attempts over SU’s wins against San Diego State and West Virginia.

Looking ahead to next winter, SU may have to pursue additional guards in the transfer portal. If Richmond does leave, the Orange will only have Alan Griffin and Woody Newton as potential options to play the two. Neither, however, have the ball-handling prowess of Richmond or Girard.

SU’s only incoming signee is five-star forward Benny Williams.

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