I don’t know if you guys have noticed this, but after this coming basketball season, we’re going to be seeing an awful lot of changes with the Syracuse roster. We could be looking at up to seven open scholarships, and only four returning players. The recruiting class of 2017 is, obviously, of extreme importance. But how will things shake out, positionally?
Well first, we have to take a look at the probable returners. Gone will be John Gillon, Dajuan Coleman, and Tyler Roberson. If Andrew White winds up at Syracuse, he’ll be gone by this time next year, as well.
Tyler Lydon is likely out the door, and Jim Boeheim knows it. I’m betting heavily on Tyus Battle being a one-and-done player, though I’d be pleasantly surprised if he decided to stay for his sophomore year. The chances of that happening are less than stellar, though. Prepare yourselves, people: Tyus Battle is really freaking good.
So let’s presume that all of those names are off the roster for the 2017-18 season. We’ve also got an open scholarship this year that will carry over, making seven open roster spots.
Barring something completely unforeseen, that will leave us with these four players set to return:
PG Frank Howard
SF/PF Matt Moyer
PF Taurean Thompson
C Paschal Chukwu
A lot of people are pegging Moyer as a small forward rather than a power forward, and while we’re getting a little bit into semantics here, at the moment he’s got more of a power forward’s game than he does a small forward’s game. Yes, he’s a skilled power forward, but he’s not skilled enough to play on the perimeter full-time yet. I’m leaving him as a swing forward because, obviously, he could develop his all-around game enough to be a viable small forward next year.
Okay. So that leaves us with exactly one guard, two big forwards, and a center. It’s pretty easy to see where the focus of the recruiting class will be, and that’s been backed up by the offers that have gone out so far.
At this point, I fully expect Syracuse to try to bring in 3-4 guards. I’m leaning more toward three, but that’s also because I’m not anticipating a full, seven person class. We may see the staff pursue another graduate transfer or two heading into next season. With Frank Howard set to be a rising junior heading into next year, I’m anticipating only taking one point guard in this year’s class.
That means I’m fully expecting the staff to take two shooting guards – with the top option being Hami Diallo, while the perfect complement to that freakishly athletic guard would probably be Alex O’Connell. In my ideal class, we’d land both of these players, with Diallo being much more of a pipe dream.
But let’s presume for a moment that we land either Quade Green or Matt Coleman at point guard (but certainly not both), O’Connell at shooting guard, and because we’re dreaming big, Diallo as another shooting guard. Where do we go next?
The most ideal candidate to take the fourth spot in the class of 2017 may very well be Jordan Tucker. The 6-foot-7 swingman has a small forward’s body but the ability to play a little bit of shooting guard (though his handle will need to continue improving for that to happen for any extended periods). He’s an excellent shooter – something this class will sorely need – and arguably the top small forward prospect on the staff’s board.
The power forward and center positions are of somewhat less importance in the class of 2017, simply because the post is where we’ll have the most returning depth. And obviously, saying any position has “depth” when there are only four players coming back is a bit of a stretch. But between Moyer, Thompson, and Chukwu, the interior will already have a strong foundation upon which to build.
That’s why I think Syracuse will go for someone like Oshae Brissett for what I presume will be the only available power forward spot in the class. Brissett is athletic and a little bit under the radar, which translates to a player who’s likely to be in the program for 3-4 years. In other words, he’s the perfect sort of recruit to bring in to play behind Taurean Thompson.
As far as the center position goes, it’s clear that Syracuse wants to bring a recruit in to share that role with Chukwu. Nick Richards remains Syracuse’s top target (technically the top guy on the board is probably Mo Bamba, but if you’re holding out hope for that ever happening, I’ve got some very bad news for you).
Three guards, two forwards, and a center. At this point, that’s how I see the class breaking down, particularly given the versatility of some of the guys being targeted at those positions (Diallo or Lonnie Walker or Brandon Randolph could probably play SF in a pinch, while as I mentioned, Tucker could probably be an emergency shooting guard).
If the class shakes out the way I’m anticipating, the roster would break down like this:
PG: Howard / freshman
SG: freshman / freshman
SF: Moyer / freshman
PF: Thompson / freshman
C: Chukwu / freshman
If the staff decided to go after a seventh player for the class, you might see them push for a guy like point guard Jose Alvarado, considering a player like Quade Green could potentially be a one-and-done or, if Frank Howard develops his offensive game, it’s conceivable he could leave after his junior year. Point guard could quickly become depleted again after the 2017-18 season. Small forward could be another position where the Orange try to get two players, given the uncertainty about whether Moyer will be able to make a full transition to that position.
It’ll be interesting to watch how this all plays out, and which recruit gets the ball rolling – and when. With O’Connell set to visit campus in about a month, he could well be the player who sets off the dominos that lead to one of the biggest, most important, and hopefully best classes in Syracuse hoops history.