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One of the fastest risers this spring and into the early summer is Cole Swider, the 6-foot-8 forward from St. Andrew’s in Rhode Island. Yesterday, Swider released his final four schools, and also noted that he’s currently on his official visit to Syracuse. With a decision seemingly coming in the near future, he remains an absolutely critical recruit for Jim Boeheim’s 2018 class.

The sweet-shooting forward’s final four also includes Duke (a recent offer), Xavier, and Villanova. Swider recently took an unofficial visit to Durham, and will be returning later this week for his official visit, before visiting Xavier at the end of June. His Villanova visit is still up in the air.

The Orange have landed some high quality recruits over the past two recruiting cycles, but as you no doubt are very aware, neither cycle has been what you’d call “normal.” Late decisions, graduate transfers, and last minute changes of heart from recruits who were seemingly headed to Syracuse have marked 2016 and 2017. That’s part of what makes Swider such an important recruit.

The 2018 recruiting class is an important one for Boeheim and the Orange, and it needs to have impact players. Swider certainly fits that bill, particularly after showcasing his skills on the EYBL circuit this spring. In 16 games, he averaged 19.4 points-per-game while shooting 49.5% from the field and 35% from long range, and also made nearly 83% of his free throws. He also grabbed 6.3 boards-per-game.

With Swider seemingly very focused on moving methodically through his recruitment and, based on his early official visit schedule, early decision, it’d be a huge win for the Orange to get the ball rolling on this year’s class. Landing a player of Swider’s caliber this early would be a statement that this recruiting cycle is going to be different, and a sign that things are getting back to normal.

It certainly helps Syracuse’s case that later this week, Tyler Lydon – a player with a very similar game to Swider as a stretch four who can really shoot the ball from deep – is going to be selected in the NBA Draft after two seasons. It’s also particularly helpful that Lydon was a relatively unheralded recruit, generally considered about a top 75 player in his class, and suddenly has a very real chance of being a first round pick. That’s something the Orange coaches can point to for Swider, in telling him that they can do the same for him.

Getting Swider’s first official visit is good news, as well, though watch out for Villanova, who is obviously getting the final visit before a decision. Still, the Orange are in good position to land one of their top targets, and the earlier Syracuse can lock up a recruit or two, the better. If Boeheim and company can grab Swider, and then get Jalen Carey and Darius Bazley in Orange, that’d be one hell of a nice class.

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Jeff is a 2003 graduate of Syracuse University, and has been published on various websites including Cracked.com, Spike.com, TheSportster.com, Gunaxin.com, and TopTenz.net, among others. His work was featured in the New York Times bestselling book You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News. He’s got a wife, and a toddler he’s brainwashing to love Syracuse. Jeff’s a pretty great guy, overall, and would never steal your car. Follow him on Twitter: @jekelish