We’re still not sure if the Syracuse basketball recruiting class of 2015 is complete yet, but it’s never too early to check in on the class of 2016, is it? Jim Boeheim already has one player ready to join the Orange in that class: Matthew Moyer, a 6-foot-8 forward from Columbus, Ohio, who spurned his hometown Buckeyes to play instead for our beloved Jimmy B.
Moyer is a four star prospect across the board, ranked 58th in the nation by ESPN, 39th by 247 and Rivals, and 60th overall by Scout. Generally regarded as the top junior prospect in the state of Ohio, Moyer is exactly the kind of long, athletic forward that Boeheim loves to plug into the wing of the 2-3 zone. Right now, his game is probably a little better to play the power forward position offensively, but he’s got a developing offensive skill set that could ultimately allow him to become a small forward in the mold of, say, CJ Fair.
It didn’t take long after receiving his offer from Jim Boeheim that Moyer decided that Syracuse was the right place, verbally committing to the Orange on August 8 last summer. One of the interesting things about Moyer is that, while a lot of young athletes talk about the importance of getting an education to go along with playing at an elite level in college, Moyer is a kid who actually means it. The straight A student reportedly plans on becoming a cardiologist, and Syracuse’s academics played a big factor in his quick commitment.
But hey, let’s move away from the student part of student-athlete, because while it’s great, chances are that’s not why you’re reading this. What kind of player is Matt Moyer? For starters, he’s extremely long. He’s reportedly got a wingspan of 7-foot-2, a fact that no doubt had Boeheim just about slobbering when picturing him in the back of the zone. With his long arms and athleticism, he’s going to be a potentially dangerous defender when it comes to closing out on shooters and rotating down low for weak side blocks.
Weighing around 205-210 (depending on which service you look at), he’s also another in the long line of Syracuse forwards who combines being very long with being very lean. Damone Brown, Hakim Warrick, Jerami Grant…Matthew Moyer. He fits into the same mold as those talented players when it comes to measurables, though at this point he’s a little more advanced offensively than that trio. That doesn’t mean his game can’t still improve, because it absolutely can. He’s got a solid, but not great handle, and while he has the ability to step out onto the perimeter and knock down jumpers, that’s not particularly his forte.
Moyer was on the court last night and put up solid numbers across the board, posting a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards, while adding three blocks and two steals. Right now, he’s looking to lead his Gahanna to a state championship and so far things are going exactly to plan, with the team ranked first in the state and boasting a perfect 13-0 record.
Watching clips of Moyer, I can’t help but be at least vaguely reminded of another former Orangeman, though not one of the trio I mentioned above. Based on his frame and his current skill set, for whatever reason I can’t help but think of a more athletic version of Ryan Blackwell when watching Moyer play. Blackwell wasn’t nearly as explosive as Moyer, and Moyer needs to bring his ballhandling skills up a bit to match Blackwell’s, but I can’t help but be reminded of the former transfer from Illinois who teamed with Jason Hart and Etan Thomas for the Orange. Obviously, this is based on limited observations, and I have no doubt that Moyer has some strengths that Blackwell never had, and vice versa. Incidentally, for those too young to remember Blackwell, here’s his most famous moment in Orange, against St. John’s in the 1998 Big East Tournament:
And it really is too early to make such comparisons, because Moyer has not only a full year of high school left ahead of him, but he’s also got the upcoming summer camp circuit to help boost his national reputation even more. Moyer exploded up the rankings last summer, and based on the numbers he’s putting up and his improving all around game, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him become a consensus top 30 player by the recruiting services.