Taurean Thompson won't return to Syracuse

Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports

After an impressive freshman season, forward Taurean Thompson will not be returning to the Syracuse Orange.

"We have been informed that Taurean is taking a leave of absence from Syracuse University," coach Jim Boeheim said in a statement to Syracuse.com. "My understanding is he wants to go to school closer to home due to some family health issues."

Thompson was set to be a focal point of the Orange's 2017-18 squad as the only returning big man who played significant minutes last season. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game, but showed improved production as the season progressed.

Thompson posted double-digit points in seven of his last 10 games, including an 18-point, eight-rebound performance against the Ole Miss Rebels in Syracuse's second round NIT loss.

The loss of Thompson means more will be expected from 7-foot-2 center Paschal Chukwu, a transfer from the Providence Friars, in the middle of the team's 2-3 zone. Chukwu appeared in only seven games with the Orange last season and posted 1.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game in just 15.4 minutes per contest.

-- Sam Henken