Over the last 30 years, or so, Jim Boeheim has developed Syracuse University into a national powerhouse in men's basketball. As we know, it all starts with recruiting. Over the years, Syracuse has done a tremendous job recruiting both nationally and locally, but where have the Orange had more success? It depends on the time period, writes Mike Waters.
Syracuse first started recruiting (successfully) on a national level once they entered the Big East in the 1980s. From 1986-1990, Syracuse signed six California natives, including All-American Stephen Thompson and current assistant coach Mike Hopkins.
The TV contract with the Big East provided recruits a first-hand look at Boeheim's program and style of play, which attracted many top talents across the country. In the 1990s, Syracuse signed only two California natives, Jason Hart and Tony Bland. It was apparent the Orange started focusing more on the east coast talent.
One of the most important recruits in Syracuse Orange men's basketball history was Rochester (NY) native John Wallace. Coming to SU in 1992, Wallace knew SU was on probation and would miss the 1993 NCAA Tournament. In 1996, the former Greece Athena (NY) standout led Syracuse to the national title game, ultimately losing to Kentucky. Mike Hopkins is on the record saying Wallace saved the program. He believed in Syracuse when not many others did.
Over the past 15 years, Syracuse has recruited six players from Philadelphia, four from Washington D.C., three from Baltimore and two from Boston, Waters writes.
Syracuse missed out on recruits in the early 1990s due to NCAA violations, and they will certainly miss out on recruits with the current violations. However, the focus is still the same: recruit the east coast and go after the best. Coach Boeheim has stated multiple times that he will continue to recruit New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and New Jersey.
The staff has made it obvious: they'll take the local kid with the same skill set 99% of the time. "Most programs get 90% of the players close to home," says Boeheim.
As long as the Hall-of-Famer continues to successfully recruit New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York, Syracuse fans shouldn't have much to worry about.