After flirting with programs like Michigan State and Kansas, it appears that 7-foot-2 Providence transfer Paschal Chukwu has decided to join the Syracuse University basketball program, according to a report from NYCHoops.net. The now former Friar averaged 2.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game as a freshman at Providence, and will have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2015-2016 season.
Sources say 7-foot-2 Providence transfer Paschal Chukwu is Syracuse-bound #Cuse
— Stacey Davis (@NYCHoopsnball) June 28, 2015
Chukwu was rated the No. 61 prospect in the country coming out of prep school in Connecticut, and gives the Orange the kind of size and length they haven’t had in the middle of the zone since Fab Melo was manning the paint in Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. Chukwu is still a very raw offensive player, but with a 7-foot-2 frame and athleticism he could potentially be a lethal intimidator on defense.
Syracuse recruited Chukwu in high school, before he decided to play for the Friars. Right now, it’s hard to peg who else Syracuse will have at center in the 2016-2017 season. Dajuan Coleman could conceivably still be around but given his injury hampered career and the fact he will have graduated, it would be just as easy to see him move on. Other than that, the options at the five are Chino Obokoh and Moustapha Diagne, though Diagne is a little undersized for the position (in reality, he’s really a power forward who might be forced to play center this year out of necessity) and Obokoh is probably even more raw than Chukwu. It’s likely that Chukwu would start from the first game he’s eligible.
Now, the million dollar question: how does this impact Syracuse’s scholarship reduction? At this point, it seems most likely that by accepting Chukwu’s transfer the Orange will delay the penalties for a year, which also throws a wrench into the 2016 recruiting class since there’s currently only one more spot open – one that Chukwu would then take. Considering Syracuse is still planning on taking another guard in the 2016 class (specifically Tyus Battle, should he choose the Orange) it indicates there will be more movement with the roster, with Coleman taking his degree and leaving or Obokoh transferring being the most likely changes.
Of course, the other possibility is that Syracuse is confident in its appeal to the NCAA and believes it will get a scholarship back, which would be the ideal situation. Either way, Chukwu could play a key role in one final title run for Jim Boeheim before he hangs them up for good.
UPDATE: The Daily Orange has now confirmed that Chukwu has in fact decided on Syracuse…
7-foot-2 Providence center Paschal Chukwu confirms that he's coming to Syracuse. Will sit out one season and have three years left.
— Matt Schneidman (@matt_schneidman) June 28, 2015