Scott Timpano was walking toward Flint Hall when Adrian Autry pulled up his car next to him. Timpano, a Syracuse alum and Beacon City School teacher, was heading back from the Carmelo K. Anthony Center, where he helped organize the Orange’s summer elite camp. The year prior, he utilized this connection to create a spot at the camp for Elijah Hughes, a star at Beacon High School the year before he transferred away from the school.
Hughes, a then-rising senior, had been playing for the Hudson Valley team in the New York State Basketball Summer Games. In a matchup against the central New York team, Hughes scored 43 points. Timpano followed along the night prior, watching a player he’s seen develop put on one of the better performances of his career. Then Autry stopped him.
“Coach, I’m kind of in trouble,” Timpano remembered Autry said.
“What do you mean?” Timpano asked.
“You saw what Elijah did last night?”
“Yeah it seems like he did pretty well.”
“Coach (Jim Boeheim) wants our heads because we didn’t recruit this kid.”
Jimmy Boeheim, Boeheim’s oldest son, had played on the central team that Hughes torched in front of SU’s head coach. Wayne Hughes, Hughes’ father, said that Boeheim mostly remained stoic, but at some point made a phone call. That call was to Autry, who Timpano said Boeheim “reamed him out.”
Years later, Hughes announced his intention to transfer and Timpano got in touch with the staff again. Since then, he’s had many memorable moments with SU and recently secured his 1000th collegiate point. This year, he ranks near the top-10 in most statistical categories in the ACC.
People around Hughes, like in the beginning of the year, urged he’s been performing this way all his career. The Daily Orange spoke to multiple coaches and family members to find out some of the best games he’s ever played.
In the sixth grade, Hughes played Christian Youth Organization basketball for St. Joachim and faced a team that, for as long as Wayne can remember, St. Joachim had never beaten. After a loss to St. Martin de Porres the season prior, Hughes scored 36 of his team’s 38 total points. He outscored St. Martin by one point, and St. Joachim won the game 38-35.
“He played almost a perfect game,” Wayne said.
One of the highest scoring performances of Hughes’ career came in an 11th grade AAU game. Hughes had moved on from his childhood AAU squad, Playmakers Academy, and joined the AAU team connected to Kennedy Catholic (New York) High School, which he had transferred to that year.
Hughes scored 56 points in a single game played at Iona College. Multiple times, Hughes tried deep 3’s as a “heat check,” Wayne said, and they fell. At one point, Hughes took just two steps past half court and drained a shot.
“He could not miss,” Wayne said.
Hughes’ performance came in front of Iona coaches. “You could be doing that for us!” yelled one coach throughout the game. Hughes, who already had a firm commitment to East Carolina at that point, was removed well before the end of the game.
“I was kind of wondering how much more would he be able to score,” Wayne said.
Prior to his breakout season this year, Hughes flashed his scoring ability against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Many of his coaches agreed that one of the best shots he’s hit in his career was the three-quarter court shot as the halftime buzzer expired. But his coach at Playmakers Academy AAU, Ken Dawson, wasn’t surprised.
“Elijah started practicing that shot from about eighth grade,” Dawson said. “I used to call it different zip code.”
During AAU games, Dawson said he tried to utilize Hughes’ deep 3-point range whenever possible. It was a tool to make an opponent’s zone or man-to-man sets imbalanced.
“Elijah,” Dawson called. “Different zip code!”
Hughes pulled up from deep 3-point range and the defense needed to adjust when he connected. Hughes finished with 20 points in the two games against the Blue Devils last season. Hughes shot half-court tries before every game for the Orange this season. But Dawson never saw him hit one from that far.
“Wow, that was really a different zip code,” Dawson said.
All graphics by Roshan Fernandez | Assist. Digital Editor
Published on January 22, 2020 at 9:53 pm
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