The 2018 Syracuse basketball recruiting class has a lot of variables in play, right down to trying to sort out exactly how many scholarships will be available. It could be as few as two, or as many as four, depending on how things shake out. That’s made it a little difficult to project what the class will wind up looking like, because with so many unknowns, it’s tough to pin down priorities.
With Cole Swider expected to pick a school other than Syracuse (Villanova is currently the odds-on favorite), that takes one priority recruit off the board for the Orange. Another priority recruit, Darius Bazley, is visiting campus today. Jalen Carey, the coaching staff’s top guard target, was on campus recently.
Carey is the clear top priority at guard, and after that things get a little murky. Eric Ayala is still an option, but otherwise it’s a bit of a mystery in terms of who Syracuse likes at guard, and who could be a realistic option. We can probably pencil in Buddy Boeheim as a walk-on shooting guard, but let’s set that aside for a moment.
When it comes to forwards, there were two names that clearly stood atop the coaching staff’s wish list: Swider, and Bazley. But now that Swider seems to be removed as an option, there’s another name to consider: Louis King.
The 6-foot-8 small forward from New Jersey is actually, easily, the most highly rated player Syracuse currently has a legit shot at landing. He’s rated by Scout.com as the No. 12 player in the class of 2018, and No. 16 by ESPN. His offer list is long and impressive, and includes schools like Maryland, Kansas, NC State, Oregon, Seton Hall, UConn, and Indiana, among others, and no doubt it’ll be a difficult battle for Syracuse to win. That’s particularly true if Kentucky enters the mix, as many expect.
Still, King is a highly intriguing option on the wing. He’s got terrific size at 6-foot-8, and due to the fact that he’s grown significantly over the past few years, he’s got guard skills in a forward’s body. He can handle the rock and stretch the floor, though he often gets overshadowed by his EYBL teammate, Cam Reddish. Of course, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been a standout player himself for Team Final. He’s averaged 18.0 points while shooting 38.2% from beyond the arc, adding 6.7 rebounds as well.
Of course, if Kentucky truly wants King, it’ll be tough to pull him away from the Wildcats, particularly since he’s currently playing for John Calipari as a member of the USA Basketball U19 team at the FIBA World Cup. It’s always difficult to beat Kentucky for recruits, though not impossible. The fact that King continues to be high on Syracuse, and has said in interviews that he believes he’d be a great fit with the Orange (and he’s one of the few recruits who actually likes the 2-3 zone!) and also likes that the school is close to home. The Orange certainly seem poised to be in this one until the very end.
Again, much depends on how things shake out with other recruits, and with Syracuse’s roster in general. Right now, I’m betting on at least three openings on the roster, and King would fill one of them extremely nicely. Here’s hoping that Jim Boeheim and his staff can get this elite recruit on campus and seal the deal sooner than later.