In an earlier post today, we outlined the Syracuse Orange's scholarship situation from 2016 through 2020. What you saw in terms of future depth concerns and weird roster turnover trends may not have been surprising because the program was hit with sanctions in the form of scholarship reductions.
But a quick look at recent recruiting classes shows that it may not have as much to do with those reductions, and a lot more to do with a lack of success on the recruiting trail.
It's not as if SU has failed to bring in top recruits. Far from it. But those players haven't worked out a clip that's sustainable for a top program -- especially one dealing with less scholarships.
A look at the last four classes:
|Moustapha Diagne, F||Kaleb Joseph, G||Tyler Ennis, G||Jerami Grant, F|
|Frank Howard, G||Chris McCullough, F||B.J. Johnson, G||DaJuan Coleman, F|
|Tyler Lydon, F||Chinoso Obokoh, F|
|Malachi Richardson, G||Ron Patterson, G|
|Tyler Roberson, F|
Just one of two members of the class of 2012 was on campus this season -- something that makes some sense. But just three of seven from 2012 and 2013 were around, and one of those (Obokoh) didn't play a significant minute all season. Two (Johnson, Patterson) transferred, while another two (Ennis, Grant) headed off to the NBA.
Syracuse is 0-for-2 on the class of 2014 as well, with McCullough declaring after getting injured in January of 2015, and Joseph today announcing he'll transfer. Diagne never made it to campus. Richardson and Lydon both had excellent contributions to the Orange's 2016 Final Four run, but both could conceivably test the NBA waters. Should that happen...
SU would have just three players (Howard, Roberson, Coleman) from the last four classes as primary players on the 2016-17 squad. And just four total, adding Obookoh, on the roster at all. Three would have transferred. Five would have declared after two years or less. And one never made it to campus.
It's not sustainable.
This isn't to rain on Syracuse's parade. Believe me, I'm the last person that would want to get that conversation going. Obviously you can't and won't consider Lydon and Richardson "failures" on the recruiting front, even if they leave. They got us to a Final Four. We're golden there.
But it is to point out that the Orange's recruiting still needs to change a little bit, lest we try to turn ourselves into Kentucky and just introduce a new 7-man rotation each season. Jim Boeheim runs a small rotation, and that means more minutes for players -- especially young, talented ones -- which can lead to more draft attention. It can also lead to players getting buried on the bench, which leads to attrition. The system creates its own problems in terms of recruiting. That's fine if you recruit to address them or hit on some four-year guys while getting great production out of your one-and-dones. It's not when you lose as many as SU has to transferring -- especially when you're working with less scholarships.
Obviously we hope this is a moot point. Hopefully Richardson and Lydon both return, Syracuse adds a couple more players for 2016-17, and then we establish some viable future of depth for the program. But just because we made it to a Final Four this year (yes, still feels great to say), doesn't mean we should simply ignore a lingering issue either.