|Posted on April 1, 2021 at 8:10 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
Marek Dolezaj has meant so much to the Syracuse Orange men's basketball program in these last four seasons.
His impact has not always shown up on the stat sheet, especially in the beginning of his collegiate career, but it should never be understated.
He has heart.
It has never mattered the height or weight of the guy going against him.
Marek does not back down from challenges.
And his next challenge will see him moving forward into his professional career.
With multiple players leaving Syracuse for the transfer portal as well as Quincy Guerrier testing the National Basketball Association (NBA) waters, the desire to see Dolezaj don the Orange again clearly has peaked.
But according to trusted sources close to the situation, Dolezaj will not be taking the extra year of eligibility granted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for all current collegiate student-athletes, and will, instead, head to his next chapter, as a professional.
Dolezaj has been on the floor for the Orange since coming onto the team, never redshirting, so in normal circumstances, his eligibility would be up following his four seasons of play. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he would have another year to play, giving him five years on the floor for Syracuse, if he had chosen that direction.
Instead, Dolezaj will be taking his multi-faceted game to the next level with much to offer any team that makes the smart decision to pick him up.
Dolezaj has in a way played pretty much all positions on the floor, handling the ball, dishing out passes, taking shots, working inside, and filling it at center. He has been playing out of position for the majority of his collegiate career, doing what the coaching staff asked of him while with the Orange.
Someone who came in to play forward ended up with a lot more on his shoulders, but his response was superb. Dolezaj now has tape showing his ability to control the ball on the dribble as well as distribute it with precision and great vision. There are moments where you forget that he is in the front court as a result of watching him deliver the ball to his teammates as a point guard should.
His range has gone from the rim to beyond the arc, showcasing that he can make shots from all over the court, which front court players more commonly have to do now, rather than simply playing around the rim.
Speaking of around the rim, however, Dolezaj has repeatedly shown a fearlessness to attack, taking shots and going after rebounds in traffic against players that had more muscle and overall weight. He does not shy away from contact. If anything, he welcomes it.
Also worthy of note, he chases after loose balls and is willing to put his body on the line, displaying a selflessness as a teammate.
What all of this means is that he will be an asset to any team smart enough to offer him a place on their roster.
Statistically speaking, as a true freshman, Dolezaj played in 37 games, starting 17 of them. He averaged 5.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 27.9 minutes played per game.
In his second season, he averaged 4.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in 21.6 minutes per game, playing in 34 games, and starting in six.
As a junior, Dolezaj saw more of a leadership role, starting in all 32 games he played in, averaging 10.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 33.3 minutes per contest.
In this past season (2020-21), Dolezaj also started in every game he played in, which was 28 contests, averaging 9.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 35 minutes per game.
Whatever task was asked of him he tried to complete.
He has put his comfortability on the line for the sake of the team.
It really is a "we not me" world for Marek.
You cannot make a player care about his teammates, nor can you teach heart.
Dolezaj is a utility belt for any team, with more to offer than simple stats.
And I do not believe we have seen the best of Dolezaj yet, which means whoever does not get him has to potentially play him.
Good luck to them.
They will need it.