The Syracuse basketball roster still isn’t quite set for the 2016-2017 season, with names like Taurean Thompson, Cheickna Dembele, and Grant Mullins among those being floated as potential additions. But it’s never too early to start looking ahead to the next full recruiting cycle, and Syracuse has a chance to bring in a very big, and very talented class for what could potentially be Jim Boeheim’s final season on the sidelines.
First things first, we have to take a look at who will and won’t actually be here, and how many roster spots will be open. For right now, let’s assume that the Orange add two more players (one grad transfer and one freshman), and for the moment let’s say Malachi Richardson will be back, bringing next year’s roster to resembling something like this:
SR: Dajuan Coleman, Tyler Roberson, (grad transfer)
SO: Tyler Lydon, Malachi Richardson, Frank Howard, Paschal Chukwu
FR: Tyus Battle, Matthew Moyer, (freshman)
That’s 10 scholarships taken out of 11 possible, leaving one open. Heading into 2017-2018, the Orange will be losing Coleman, Roberson, and the graduate transfer. Adding the already open spot, that makes four open scholarships. Lydon, Richardson, and Battle are all early entry candidates next season, which could, amazingly, potentially leave Syracuse with a whopping seven open scholarships if they all head to the Draft.
For right now, though, let’s just assume only one of them (most likely Richardson) leaves, putting Syracuse at five open scholarships. Who are the targets the Orange are looking at to fill that large number of open spots?
The 5-foot-11 point guard is, at this point, arguably the highest priority recruit for Syracuse heading into the 2017 recruiting cycle. He’s currently rated as the No. 41 player in the country by ESPN, but don’t be at all surprised to see him vault up into the top 25 by the end of the summer. He’ll be a potential McDonald’s All-America pick, especially now that schools like Duke are sniffing around.
Syracuse is in excellent shape with this Philadelphia native from Neumann-Goretti, and at this point is probably the favorite. He’s already off to a tremendous start in the EYBL season, and his profile is about to soar.
Rated as the No. 14 player in the nation by ESPN, Diallo is another player whose stock is going to get even higher. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard just picked up offers from Kentucky and Duke, and is one of the most athletic and explosive players in the class. He’s going to be one of, if not the most highly sought after shooting guard in the class when it’s all said and done. It’ll be an enormous victory if Syracuse can land him.
Right now, I think Syracuse is in an uphill battle for Diallo, particularly with Kentucky and Duke emerging on the scene for the elite wing scorer.
Sticking with the New York Rens EYBL club, which is the same team that Diallo plays for, let’s talk a little bit about Jordan Tucker. The 6-foot-7 swingman is rated by ESPN as the No. 30 player in the country, and Syracuse is one of the heavy favorites right now for the White Plains native. Tucker has a reputation as one of the most lethal long range shooters in the class, though the rest of his game needs to catch up with his ability to stroke the three.
As has been reported a few places, right now both Tucker and Diallo are working on setting up a visit to Syracuse in the near future.
This 6-foot-5 wing from Reading, Pennsylvania is a recent offer for Syracuse, but the No. 23 rated player in the class (according to ESPN) is a strong all-around performer that Orange fans would be thrilled to see playing in the Carrier Dome. He’s a strong athlete who can play the SG or SF positions, and has a good all-around skill set.
Walker is one of those players who does a little bit of everything, and if he winds up at Syracuse, he’ll be a fan favorite.
If there’s a bit of a “pipe dream” recruit for the 2017 recruiting class, it’s Mo Bamba. He’s an EYBL teammate of not just Quade Green, but another recruit we’ll get to in a minute, so if the Orange are able to lock up their point guard early they would conceivably stand a better shot at landing the 6-foot-11 Bamba. Right now, he’s rated as the No. 4 player in the class of 2017 by ESPN, in large part because he is, quite simply, a physical freak of nature. Once his skills catch up with his size and athleticism, he could be one of the best big men on the planet.
And speaking of that other EYBL teammate of both Bamba and Green, we come to the 6-foot-5 Brandon Randolph. The shooting guard is another recent offer for the Orange, and he also picked up a Kansas offer last week following a strong performance at EYBL Brooklyn. Randolph is a smooth guard who handles it well enough to potentially play a little point at the next level, so he’s got that “combo guard” quality that Syracuse has really liked in recent years. If things go south with Diallo, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Randolph emerge as the top choice at shooting guard (depending on whether they view Walker as more of a SG or SF). Randolph isn’t currently ranked by ESPN, but is No. 53 at Scout.
An intriguing prospect for a couple reasons, Cosby-Roundtree isn’t currently ranked in the ESPN Top 60, though Scout rates him as the top power forward in Pennsylvania. He’s a high school teammate of Quade Green’s at Neumann-Goretti, and the 6-foot-9, 210 pound prospect certainly fits the mold of a lot of recent Syracuse forwards. He’s long and athletic, and is a strong rebounder and shot blocker. He’s also got more skill than he gets credit for; it’s not unusual to see him block a shot, collect the rebound, and drive coast to coast and dish to a teammate.
Rated as the No. 12 player in America by ESPN, the 6-foot-11 center has been one of the highest priority targets for Jim Boeheim and his staff in the class of 2017 for awhile. The Queens native is a good athlete who, at 250 pounds, is already physically ready to step in and compete from day one. He should almost certainly be a McDonald’s All-America selection, and has a chance to emerge as the top center in the class of 2017 when it’s all said and done.
He would be an enormous pickup for the Orange, though he’s quite possibly a one-and-done type of player due to his combination of size and athleticism.
The 6-foot-8, 205 pound power forward from Albany is a relatively new name on Syracuse’s radar, and is currently ranked No. 59 in the class of 2017 by ESPN. Right now, Villanova seems to be heavy competition for the long, athletic forward. Wright is likely a bit of a fallback for a couple of the power forwards already mentioned, but he’s got an advanced enough skill set that it’s easy to see him inching his way up both the national rankings and the Syracuse recruiting board. He’s an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on.
Originally committed to Butler as part of the class of 2016, this Buffalo native backed off of his commitment to the Bulldogs and reclassified to 2017. The 6-foot-2 point guard is a backup plan at this point should the Orange miss out on Green, but he’s definitely someone worth keeping an eye on moving forward. He’s highly skilled, and a very heady player who would be a very, very nice consolation prize if the Orange are unable to land Green.
Yep, we’re going to go ahead and end with the guy who should have been a part of the recruiting class of 2015 before the NCAA decided to dick him over. The 6-foot-8 Diagne still has strong Syracuse interest, and vice versa. With two years of junior college under his belt by the time he gets to campus, he’ll also be a lot more ready to contribute right away than he would have been this past year. And that’s saying something, because I thought he would have been an incredibly welcome addition to this year’s rotation. Diagne is a terrific rebounder and shot blocker whose offensive skills are severely underrated.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list of names and there’s a good chance someone I haven’t even mentioned will find his way into the class before it’s all said and done. But for right now, if you want to look at the future of Syracuse basketball, there’s an excellent chance that at least a couple of these names will be a part of that future.