Syracuse Basketball Recruiting: Will Christmas Come Twice for the Orange?

The Syracuse Orange basketball team has already hauled in a large recruiting class for 2012, if not in numbers than certainly in stature. With highly regarded forward Jerami Grant and center DaJuan Coleman signed, sealed, and delivered to the Orange for next fall, the SU coaching staff could be forgiven if they raised anchor on this class and set a course for deeper waters in 2013.

But a huge fish just dove headfirst into the 2012 pond, and the Orange just might be able to reel him in.

Nerlens Noel, the #2 overall player in ESPN’s class of 2013 rankings, has decided to ‘reclassify’ and move up to the class of 2012. This is according to a report from ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep published Wednesday night. Telep says Noel repeated his sophomore year after changing high schools from Everett, Massachusetts to Tilton, New Hampshire, but will now graduate with his original class. He has already been installed as the new #1 player in the class of 2012, even ahead of stud forward Shabazz Muhammad. Telep says that among the colleges on Noel’s radar are the usual powerhouses such as Kentucky, Florida, Georgetown, North Carolina, Connecticut, and – you guessed it – Syracuse.

I’ll pause now while you get all of the Nerlens Noel – Rakeem Christmas jokes out of your system.

Waiting…

Waiting…

We good?

All right. Let’s move on.

In an odd twist, Noel – Christmas comparisons are appropriate beyond their festive surnames. At a reported 6’10” and 215 pounds, Noel is built similarly to Christmas, and is known as a rebounding, shot blocking athlete who is a bit raw on the offensive end. The same was said about Rakeem just a year ago. The thought of these two big men, along with widebody Coleman, terrorizing opposing offenses together for the next three years has to bring smiles to the faces of SU hoops fans and zone defense aficionados alike. That’s without considering the assumed returns of Fab Melo and Baye Keita, who would obviously only be juniors next year.

(via Jensen11292)

So how would SU be able to go after Noel when they were supposedly finished recruiting this class? Well, the departure of Mookie Jones from the team a couple of weeks ago has opened up a valuable scholarship for next season. The recruitment of Noel could be viewed as a classic case of the rich getting richer, or it could be a hedge against someone like Melo or Dion Waiters leaving early for the NBA Draft. It could also protect SU in the event of another situation like DaShonte Riley’s, where the 7-foot center ended up transferring to Eastern Michigan to join former SU assistant coach Rob Murphy.

Telep also reports that Noel has already visited Providence and UConn, and plans to be at the Carrier Dome when the Orange host the Huskies on Saturday, February 11. That matchup is thought to be SU’s annual effort to break the all-time campus attendance record, but UConn’s recent struggles have taken a little bit of luster off of the game. Regardless of the final attendance, the Dome should be rocking when a longtime rival and the defending national champions come to town to face the #2 team in the nation.

Next week I’ll detail the recruiting war over international guard Felix Navidad, and an underground campaign to convince Kris Joseph to change his last name to Kringle before his SU career wraps up.*

*These are probably not true, but I couldn't help myself.

Jeremy Ryan is a writer and editor for CNYcentral.com in Syracuse. You can follow him on Twitter @JeremyRyan44.

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