By now Hakim Warrick should la!' have become accustomed to second-class treatment. As a senior at Friends Central in Wynnewood, Pa., three years ago he had to wait until New York City blue-chipper Julius Hodge chose N.C. State over Syracuse before the Orangemen would give Warrick a scholarship. And last summer he was one of the final cuts from the U.S. team for the Pan Am Games. "That was a big letdown," says Warrick, a 6' 8", 209-pound junior forward. "It took me off guard. I know I played well, but I guess they wanted more bulk. But it was the turning point of my summer. It got me to turn my workouts up a notch."
With the early departure for the NBA of Carmelo Anthony, who was Syracuse's go-to guy and the NCAA tournament MVP, Warrick has the opportunity to become the main man, the first scoring option on the team. "Hakim's going to get a chance to make a real impact this year," says coach Jim Boeheim. Warrick, the team's second-leading scorer last season, doesn't have Anthony's transcendent offensive gifts, but he has a multifaceted game that can confound opponents. He'll circle the key looking for a spot to get off his soft jumper—"I study guys like [Tracy] McGrady and [Kevin] Garnett, the way they move without the ball," he says—or he'll attack the rim and use the leaping ability that produced 80 dunks last season. On defense the long-limbed Warrick has a knack for making the big play. None was bigger than his rush from the foul line to the corner to make a last-minute block of Kansas guard Michael Lee's three-point attempt, preserving Syracuse's 81-78 victory in the national title game.
Playing the spindly Warrick at power forward is not Boeheim's only unorthodox move. He's also going to start three playmakers—sophomore guards Gerry McNamara and Billy Edelin, and junior small forward Josh Pace ( Anthony's replacement in the lineup)—to increase ball movement and allow the Orangemen to run more. "We're unselfish and have a lot of ability," says McNamara. "When you combine the two, you usually have a pretty fun year."
Says Warrick, "No one is looking to replace Carmelo's numbers [by himself], but we want to show that we still have a great team."
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