College basketball is fun. It's fun for players and it's fun for fans.
But that doesn't mean it's always fair.
Syracuse Orange basketball picked up a commitment from big-time 2016 recruit Tyus Battle on Monday. It's great news for the program and great news for the team's future prospects. It's also yet another Jenga piece to place atop the growing tower of future scholarship roster spots that Syracuse is running out of.
On paper, Syracuse is now completely full. Technically-speaking, Syracuse doesn't have a scholarship to give Battle. And yet, we all know they do. Because, like it or not, the college basketball roster is not rock-solid but rather a fluid, interchangeable collection of players.
Forget about wondering if a guy will stay for three years, we're officially at the point where we have to wonder if most guys are here any longer than two. In the case of some, just one.
Syracuse said goodbye to four scholarship players this past season for all types of reasons. Rakeem Christmas graduated, Chris McCullough left early, Ron Patterson transferred and B.J. Johnson did too. That's three guys who we figured would be here for the 2015-2016 and won't be. Maybe you predicted one of them wouldn't be here but I doubt you expected all three to go.
Such is life now for college basketball, especially in a high stakes place like Syracuse and especially with the clock ticking on Jim Boeheim's career and legacy. If you know anything about Jimmy B, you know that he wants to go out with one more trophy on his mantle. A National Title? God willing. A Final Four, at least. He's certainly not letting NCAA sanctions concern him. Instead, he's stockpiling talent and worrying about how it shakes out later.
Sound a bit like how a pro team does things? You were deluded for thinking it wasn't like that already. Plenty of guys have transferred or been pushed out in part because they were told they wouldn't get much playing time, or any at all. According to legend, one of two guys were simply told to save face and move on. Maybe more.
And so, while we should analyze the scholarship situation in the coming years, it's lunacy to try and predict what will happen. Just like how you didn't know Freshman Rakeem was going to become Senior Rakeem, you don't know who will still be on the roster this time next year. DaJuan Coleman will recover from his injury or he won't. Chino Obokoh (whose AAU coach told the Daily Orange he has "no intentions whatsoever" to transfer) will either prove himself valuable or he won't. Kaleb Joseph will get it together or he'll probably transfer. Malachi Richardson may go pro after one year, he may not.
The odds say at least half of any freshman class won't make it to junior year, one way or another. The highly-touted 2013 Class has already proven this true.
Point is, try your best not to pick sides, root against a guy or make assumptions. It's already a bit ugly and crass for what's supposed to be an amateur sport, no reason to pile on. None of us, Boeheim included, know how things will pan out when it comes to roster space in the coming years.
Only that the odds say they will.