Malachi Richardson is staying in the NBA Draft, according to reports, though he's yet to hire an agent and still has until May 25 to make a final decision. Draft experts believe that the Syracuse Orange standout either has or will receive a first round guarantee from a team, which is what he wanted in order to stay in the pool of players.
Obviously this will impact Syracuse's lineup for next year, and we'll get to that. But if Malachi going in the first round comes to fruition, there's a positive impact to be had too. Richardson would become the latest piece of a growing selling point for Orange recruits: come here and become a first-round pick.
Since the end of the 2011-12 season, Syracuse has had five players go in the first round of the NBA Draft: Dion Waiters, Fab Melo, Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis and Chris McCullough. That's tied for fourth in the country with Kansas and UCLA, and just one behind third-place North Carolina for selections in that time period (full list here). Better yet, Syracuse is one of just four schools with at least one player chosen in the first round of the last four drafts, along with Kentucky, Duke and Kansas. If Richardson's picked in the first, and other draft projections hold, SU will be one of just three schools (with Kentucky and Duke) to have a first-rounder in five straight drafts.
Better yet, Syracuse has had a first round pick in all but one year (2011) since 2009.
When we talk about this program's ability to be perceived at a higher level, this is what we're focused in on. NBA-caliber talent usually equals success for a college program. It's easy to see that year over year, or even by just looking at the names that accompany Syracuse atop the list of recent first-rounders. More often than not, NBA talent is a large part of program success. And the more names you can add to that selling point to recruits, the more likely you'll land future draft picks too.
While it obviously hurts to lose kids every year -- especially those that leave early -- this recent trend has come with results we can certainly live with. Syracuse fans should take more wins, two recent Final Fours and better recruiting as signs that things have changed -- for the better. If the price of deeper tournament runs is an underclassman declaring every spring, cool. His success helps sell his replacement on joining the Orange program.
So hopefully you've got that guarantee, Malachi. You'll be missed, but your success in the pros only helps us out in the long-run. Best of luck come June.