By Michael McAllister
In recent years, Syracuse basketball recruiting has been on a major surge. Top-10 classes with five-star studs have been the norm. The class of 2012 included five-star local product DaJuan Coleman, and four-star forward Jerami Grant. Given the recent recruiting trend, it's reasonable to assume that would continue. The only thing to suggest it wouldn't is the recent Bernie Fine allegations. However, several top recruits have stated
it won't impact their decision. What is the outlook for the next class, the class of 2013?
We must start by evaluating who will still be here from the current team by the time the 2013 season comes along. Those who will still have eligibility left are as follows:
Guards: Dion Waiters, Michael Carter-Williams, Trevor Cooney
Forwards: CJ Fair, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman, Jerami Grant
Centers: Fab Melo, Baye Keita
With those players returning, there's room for about three or four recruits to be added to the mix. Let's keep in mind, there's a chance a couple players could leave early. The most likely candidates for that are Melo and Waiters. But for purposes of evaluating needs for this class, we will assume everyone will be back until we hear otherwise.
There's a glaring need for a guard or two based on only having three returning that year. There are a few targets to keep an eye on. First is 6'4" point guard Allerik Freeman. He's a five-star point guard from Charlotte, North Carolina who currently holds offers from a variety of schools. While he does not have an offer from Syracuse yet, he does have interest in Syracuse. It stands to reason Syracuse would have interest in him as well, though that's unconfirmed at the moment. He's a bigger guard which fits the description of recent guard recruits (Scoop, Triche, Carter-Williams). Freeman is a very good shooter with excellent handle, and very good floor vision. He passes well and is able to create shots for his teammate. He would be an excellent fit at Syracuse. A backup plan is four-star point guard Monte Morris from Flint, Michigan. He's a 6'1" point guard who has good passing skills, and makes good decisions on the court. He possesses a solid all-around game, but doesn't have jaw dropping skills in any one particular area. His outside shot could also use some work, as could his defensive abilities. The zone may be a perfect fit for him, as he tends to struggle with man to man. Another guard to keep an eye on is five-star point guard Tyler Ennis. He's a great ball handler who has excellent court vision. He's more a true point guard in that he doesn't look to score first. His shot could use a little work, but he's more than adequate from the outside. He told Coast 2 Coast Hoops
that Syracuse is a good program, is close to home, and he hopes to take an official visit at some point.
Shooting guard options include four-star prospects Davon Reed and Kendrick Nunn. Reed is a 6'5" guard who can really shoot. He's a very physically gifted athlete who defends very well. Nunn is a 6'1" prospect with a similar skill set to Reed. He's a little better creating his own shot than Reed, but his lack of size is a concern. In the zone, it might not be as much of a problem, but could he be a consistent force as a 6'1 shooting guard? Other shooting guard options are 6'2" four-star prospect Anton Gill and four-star 6'4" prospect Stanford Robinson. Gill is a scoring machine with the athleticism to be a very good defender. He's great attacking the rim, but could improve his outside shot. Robinson is a bigger guard who's not quite as quick as the other prospects.
In addition to the guards, another forward and center would be a great way to round out the class. There are many options for these spots. The gem of the class is five-star center Nerlens Noel
. He's the #1 rated player in his class at the moment, and already has an offer from Syracuse. Noel is a long 6'10" defensive center, who blocks shots at will. He gets off the ground quickly, is a very good passer, and is very athletic for his size. Noel will need to get bigger and stronger, but he has the necessary skills to be a stud inside. Another center who has an offer from Syracuse is 6'8" four-star prospect BeeJay Anya
. BeeJay is a strong, stocky center who rebounds very well. He has a long wingspan which allows him to cause problems for opposing players that enter the lane. He's not overly athletic, but he's a very good prospect who would be a great backup plan to Noel.
At forward, there's five-star power forward prospect Christ Walker. He's a 6'10" long, athletic player who rebounds very well. Like most young big men, he could improve his strength and inside scoring. A small forward prospect is 6'6" Rondae Jefferson. He's an athletic player very much in the mold of the typical wing that Boeheim recruits. His game is very comparable to Kris Joseph's game coming out of high school. He lacks a great outside shot, but is able to create his own shot and possesses good athletic ability. He's also a very good rebounder, maybe better than Joseph. Another forward to consider is Noel's teammate, Goodluck Okonoboh. He's a 6'9" PF/C prospect with long arms, and good athleticism. He's already visited Syracuse a few times, including being in attendance at this year's Midnight Madness. He's a good shot blocker, but could improve his strength and post moves. Just imagine if the Orange snagged him and played him at center. You could have a starting front line of Fair, Christmas, and Goodluck. That could be a lot of fun.
There are probably other prospects not on the national radar at the moment that Syracuse has its eye on. Remember, Michael Carter-Williams committed to the Orange early. At the time, he was a little known three-star guard prospect. However, he blew up over the subsequent summer and during AAU play. He became a four-star player that everyone wanted. There may be a player in the weeds like that. Coach Boeheim is a very good talent evaluator, and Adrian Autry is already working the recruiting trail. In a perfect world, the Orange would snag Noel, Freeman, and Reed at a minimum. Adding Jefferson would be a great fourth player to round out the class. We will keep tabs on these players and update their recruiting as things develop. Regardless, Syracuse has many options and will no doubt continue its solid recruiting from recent years.