Now that we got the good news that Rakeem Christmas will be joining us in 2011, it's fair to say that Syracuse basketball is going to be just fine in terms of fresh talent over the next few years. The 2010 class was routinely mentioned among the top ten all year and now the 2011 class is shaping up to match it.
- Rakeem Christmas, C - No. 8 by ESPN, No 9 by Rivals
- Trevor Cooney, G - No. 51 by ESPN, No. 142 by Rivals
- Michael Carter-Williams, F - No. 25 by ESPN, No. 16 by Rivals
And that doesn't include anyone else that comes in. Not too shabby for a program that went to back-to-back NITs only five years ago.
Jim Boeheim will get a lot of credit for reinvigorating the Syracuse program but it's pretty fair to say there's no way he could have done it without Mike Hopkins and. I don't know who puts together the lists for "best recruiting assistant coaches" but these guys are officially among the best. Especially if Fab Melo, Dion Waiters and now Rakeem Christmas pan out the way we expect them to.
Syracuse recruiting has always been strong, but there's something about the past few years that seems to signal a new era. From Donte Greene and Jonny Flynn to the 2011 class, the bar has been raised. And thank God, because if Syracuse wants to be a truly elite program, it had to be.
Look around at the NCAA landscape. It's cliche to talk about the one-and-done players and dearth of senior leadership, but it's true. Syracuse got ridiculously lucky last year. Think about it... Wes Johnson, one of best players in the country, lands unheralded in their laps. He does so the same season that Andy Rautins, recruited as a project, becomes a senior leader. A second senior, Arinze Onuaku, helps re-establish SU's ownership of the paint, a place the Orange are usually lacking.
Two star seniors and a phenom junior transfer. That's just not supposed to happen anymore. And Syracuse can't bank on it happening again for a while.
Look around the nation...young talent dominates. And then it leaves. Quickly. The elite programs are constantly re-stocking the cupboard. Not with good talent. With GREAT talent. Say what you will about Calipari and Kentucky but the reason he's so successful is because he is the perfect head coach for this era. He can recruit like no one else. Sure, he's shady as hell and eventually gets exposed...but for those few years beforehand, it's glorious for the fanbase.
Not that you need to be shady. Far from it. But you need to recruit BIG. And Syracuse is doing that again.
Thank God. Because we are an elite program. The nation was reminded of that this past season. Now it's time to remind them that Syracuse being No. 1 isn't a crazy thing. It should be the norm. Judging by the talent we've got coming in, it will be.