If Jonny & Paul Leave There Will Be Trouble...But If They Stay There Will Be Double.

Without knowing too much about how the rest of college basketball will shake out once the season is over, Syracuse has be considered a frontrunner for next season, at least on paper.  In theory, they are losing only one player from the rotation and he's not even a starter (KO).  They'll return a point guard who is arguably the best in the country, two three-point specialists with tons of experience and a front-court that will only get better with another season.  All of this is not to mention the addition of transfer Wes Johnson, the return of Scoop "Dude, Where's My Cheesesteak" Jardine and the #5 -rated incoming recruiting class in the nation.

This is of course all assuming no one else decides to leave.  And all of a sudden, players we thought were staying put are beginning to let the reality of the situation wash over them and, on paper, Syracuse might not be as set as we thought.

First up is the starkest change of mind amongst anyone...Paul Harris.  Harris seemed so sure of his return for another season a couple weeks ago that I don't think any SU fan assumed the issue would come up again. Now all of a sudden, Paul's revealed that he's back on the fence about what to do with himself next season.  When asked by reporters after the game, Harris replied:

"I don't know," he said. "I don't really want to talk about it."

Whoa.  Where'd that come from?  Just depressed after the emotional loss or is Paul really thinking about jumping ship early?  He certainly doesn't have a chance to make it to the NBA yet, so what could make him leave early?  Is he waiting for Jonny to make an official decision?  Is it his need to support for his kids? 

Maybe...it's just that Paul needs to follow through on those monumental expectations he brought with him to SU:

"To be honest, it has been tough," Harris said. "Not just myself expecting so much, but fans, family members, friends . . . everybody expected me to do way much more than I’m doing. I can’t meet everyone’s expectations. I just have to be myself. I know what I’m capable of doing, and if we keep winning as a team, everything will work out fine."

There's actually a very insightful and, to be honest, depressing quote at the beginning of the article that might just sum it all up:

"People would say, ‘When you get to the NBA, don’t forget me,’ " Harris said Thursday in the Syracuse locker room. "One time, a guy said it as he was walking away. I said, ‘Wait a minute. What if I don’t get to the NBA? Don’t you forget about me.’ "

Paul went onto explain his feeling further:

I'll just figure out if I should stay and how successful I can be by being here next year or is it time for me to move on"

I think it's quite simple for Paul.  If Jonny comes back, so does he.  If Jonny doesn't, Paul might just take a shot at making an NBA roster and then seeing where his career takes him.  Of course, Jonny too has publicly said he will return to SU but he hasn't signed on the line that is dotted, so to speak.  And after the game on Friday, it seemed as though Jonny too has decided to pull back:

The big question, the one asked of Boeheim and of Jonny Flynn in the immediate aftermath of Friday's loss, was whether SU's sophomore point guard would return. Flynn has said he will stay at SU, but Friday night he, too, declined to specify his future plans.

Gack. Compounding the issue is the highly disturbing news that LeBron James is openly courting Jonny to...do what, exactly?  Play for the Cavs?  Is LeBron THAT powerful now that he can circumvent the draft? (Answer: probably):

The best evidence that Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn is rising on draft charts and is now seen as a top-10 pick: LeBron James has been calling Flynn on behalf of the agent Leon Rose, who represents James. If Flynn were just another point guard, Rose would probably have someone else in his stable do the sales pitch, like ex-Knick Mardy Collins. Flynn’s sophomore status has the Orange wishing that James would lose his number for at least one more year.

Its the kind of sorta-news that makes you just wish for some semblance of stability.  You just want a little sprinkle of knowledge that at least something familiar will be the same in 2009-2010:

Devendorf, a junior athletically after gaining an extra season because of medical hardship, said he had not committed much thought to the prospect of leaving the Orange. He is on target to graduate in May.

"I'm coming back," he said.

Sorry, America.  The good news is you can all recycle those I Hate Devo articles again next March.

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