By now you've heard that forward Chris McCullough has chosen to forgo his sophomore season with the Syracuse Orange and enter the 2015 NBA Draft.
If you remember, the NCAA sanctions imposed earlier this month against the Syracuse basketball program included a loss of 12 scholarships (three per season) over four years. Before news broke of McCullough's departure, it was widely assumed that SU would delay that particular penalty until the 2016-17 season season, which would have been perfectly legal, since the school had extended offers to 2015 recruits before the NCAA announced the sanctions.
But yesterday's news makes things much more interesting, and it gives Syracuse another option. Without McCullough, the Orange will have 10 players on scholarship next season: DaJuan Coleman, Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinije, Kaleb Joseph, Chinonso Obokoh, Tyler Roberson, Moustapha Diagne, Franklin Howard, Tyler Lydon, and Malachi Richardson.
Since the NCAA allows schools 13 scholarship players per year, SU can have 10 players on scholarship while serving its punishment. That means, of course, that Syracuse can begin doing so next year, rather than in 2016-17.
But here's the catch: the Orange is still in the mix for coveted 2015 recruit Thomas Bryant. If he commits to Syracuse, that means the penalties would ultimately be pushed back to the 2016-17 season. For the sake of this discussion, however, let's assume Bryant opts to play elsewhere, allowing SU to indeed begin serving its penalty next year.
Next, let's take a look at what the team's scholarship situation will look like during the three following seasons, from 2016-17 through 2018-19:
Only nine players are scheduled to be on scholarship for Syracuse in 2016-17: All of those listed above not named Cooney or Gbinije, as well as 2016 recruit Matthew Moyer. Even with the scholarship reduction, that gives SU room for at least one more recruit from the class of 2016 (perhaps Tyus Battle) and possibly more if someone leaves after the 2015-16 season.
Coleman, Obokoh, and Roberson each have just two years of eligibility left as we enter the 2015-16 season, so unless something funky happens, they'll all be gone after the 2016-17 season. That leaves Syracuse with six players currently scheduled to be on scholarship for the 2017-18 season: Joseph, Diagne, Howard, Lydon, Moyer, and Richardson. Depending on whether or not SU signs another player from the 2016 class, that would leave the Orange with three or four scholarships to offer to players in the class of 2017. Again, that number could rise if someone leaves early, and it's safe to assume that at least Richardson will be gone before the 2017-18 season.
Joseph will be Syracuse's lone senior on the 2017-18 team, meaning that the 2018-19 team shouldn't look much different than its predecessor. Unsafely assuming nobody leaves early, Syracuse will still have its four 2015 recruits, Moyer, and its 2017 and 2018 recruits. Joseph graduating means the Orange will have at least one scholarship to offer. Once again, that number could end up being higher, if (a) players leave early or (b) SU doesn't use all of its available scholarships on players from the class of 2018.
Syracuse's scholarship reduction penalties would end after the 2018-19 season, unless, of course Bryant commits to SU within the coming weeks. If that happens, the penalties will also be in effect during the 2019-20 season. But, once more, let's assume he chooses a school other than Syracuse.
If you'd like to see it visually, here's a tabular form of the team's scholarship situation through 2019:
|DaJuan Coleman||DaJuan Coleman||Kaleb Joseph||Moustapha Diagne|
|Trevor Cooney||Kaleb Joseph||Moustapha Diagne||Franklin Howard|
|Michael Gbinije||Chinonso Obokoh||Franklin Howard||Tyler Lydon|
|Kaleb Joseph||Tyler Roberson||Tyler Lydon||Malachi Richardson|
|Chinonso Obokoh||Moustapha Diagne||Malachi Richardson||Matthew Moyer|
|Tyler Roberson||Franklin Howard||Matthew Moyer|
|Moustapha Diagne||Tyler Lydon|
|Franklin Howard||Malachi Richardson|
|Tyler Lydon||Matthew Moyer|