While we continue to get nervous about what the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is going to do on the recruiting front, the SU women’s team has itself a pretty nice class for 2017. Coach Quentin Hillsman and his staff have secured commitments from two of the top 50 players in the espnW 100, and with five players overall, they’re currently eighth in the class rankings.
Yesterday, espnW’s Walter Villa profiled how Syracuse pulled together the best class in program history. To little surprise, Coach Q’s been selling recruits on his personality, enthusiasm, and of course, getting back to the Final Four.
For 42nd-ranked prospect Amaya Finklea-Guity, his sell was around how she could improve her game to stop fouling as much. He elected to coach instead of heap praise. It was a winning pitch for the Massachusetts native:
"What Coach Q did definitely made an impression on me," she told espnW. “"I felt he was ready to work with me and push me to be better. It was a cool moment."
Adept shooter Nikki Oppenheimer was a fan of Q as well, but the final selling point was not conveyed by Hillsman himself, but a salesperson at a Foot Locker in Syracuse. The salesperson, who used to be a team manager for SU, talked about how much she loved the Orange head coach. It was the final thing Oppenheimer needed to hear.
For the final pieces of the puzzle, Hillsman worked with assistant coach Adeniyi Amadou to scout Europe and complete the class. Amadou, who’s originally from Paris, was able to secure three commitments across the pond, including two from his native France.
Hillsman, who has a lot of seniors (five in total) to replace next season, likes what 2017 will bring. As he told espnW:
"I think our program is in a good place. When you get to the NCAA title game, you are right there. I think we just needed perimeter shooting, size and versatility, and this class addressed that."
Like last season, this year’s Syracuse women’s team has a distinct personality. Speed, perimeter shooting and aggressive defense that forces turnovers. Coach Q knows what he’s looking for in players, and finds recruits that can not only fit his system, but improve within it. The strategy’s worked out pretty well for this cycle, and if SU can continue to make noise in the NCAA Tournament, that trend will only continue.