We’re still early in the 2016 basketball recruiting cycle, but we’ve also known for a very long time that the absolute priority target for Syracuse University and head coach Jim Boeheim has been Tyus Battle. But with Kid Mamba’s recruitment starting to drag out a little bit longer than many may have expected, it appears that Boeheim has decided to lay the foundation for some pretty outstanding “backup” plans.
Battle, a 6-foot-5 combo guard being recruited by the Orange to play point guard (some other schools are looking at him to play off the ball), just took an official visit to Duke and also recently added Kentucky back to his list. That’s clearly sending a signal to Boeheim that Syracuse, once thought by many to be the favorite for Battle’s services, might not be in quite as strong a position as previously believed.
With the point guard situation at Syracuse fairly uncertain with Kaleb Joseph coming off a disappointing freshman season and a raw, relatively unknown commodity in Frank Howard joining the roster, it’s crucial for the Orange to land a top guard talent with what, at the moment, would appear to be the only scholarship still available in 2016. Thanks again for that, by the way, NCAA.
So Boeheim has been out on the road looking at other point guard options in the 2016 class, and the two names that have popped up on the radar are certainly nothing to sneeze at. In fact, one of the players is actually ranked higher in ESPN’s ratings than Kid Mamba.
That would be Kobi Simmons, a 6-foot-5 point guard from Georgia. Simmons is rated as the fifth best player in the 2016 class (Battle, by comparison, is ranked No. 15 by ESPN). Simmons has offers from a wide variety of schools, including Arizona, Ohio State, UConn, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia, among others. And unlike Battle, Simmons has a reputation of being a true point guard, rather than a combo guard who just likes playing with the ball in his hands.
Simmons is still very skinny, but also extremely skilled and is clearly one of the top prospects in the class of 2016. If Syracuse strikes out with Battle, well, there pretty much literally is no better “plan B” than Simmons available.
The Orange are looking at a pretty outstanding plan C as well, in the form of Alterique Gilbert, a 6-foot-1 guard who, like Simmons, is a Georgian. Gilbert just earned a scholarship offer from SU yesterday, and while he’s not as highly rated as Battle or Simmons, he’s still No. 44 in ESPN’s recruiting rankings. While he doesn’t quite have the size and length that Boeheim loves for the top of the zone, he’s an athletic, unbelievably quick guard who will remind a lot of Syracuse fans of a young Jonny Flynn.
Gilbert has offers from schools like UConn, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Wake Forest, Memphis, Florida State, Miami, and Cincinnati, to name a few. He’s a dynamic talent who stands to become an exciting player at the next level.
Of course, if Syracuse somehow misses out on Battle, Simmons, and Gilbert, the Orange may turn to Quinton Rose, who I’ve talked about a bit before. The 6-foot-5 Rochester native is starting to get noticed on the national level, and has recently added scholarship offers from Providence and Wake Forest, as well as Seton Hall.
Matthew Moyer is already committed and solid to the Orange, giving Syracuse its forward in the class of 2016. Now it’s time for Syracuse to add a versatile guard who can handle some of the point guard duties. Battle is still the priority, but clearly Jim Boeheim has stopped messing around, and knows he needs to collect as much young guard talent as he can if he wants to make one more championship run before retirement.