Yesterday, Mike McAllister of Scout.com posted a column where he discussed how the Syracuse Orange basketball program could be in the hunt for a number of transfer prospects for 2017-2018. That season, for those who need clarity, is the season after next and supposedly Jim Boeheim's last.
It's a scary thought considering how scarce Syracuse transfer players have come in recent years. Looking back, the only two that have really come in and been significant were Wesley Johnson, who eventually played his way into being a lottery pick, and Michael Gbinije, who had a very successful career for the Orange. Other than those two, the recently minted grad transfer John Gillon, and now-eligible Providence transfer Paschal Chukwu, Boeheim has been hesitant to take transfer players during his long coaching career. But like McAllister said in his piece, they may very well have to rely on transfers for the 2017-2018 campaign. The only other option lies in an absolutely massive, Duke/Kentucky-esque 2017 recruiting class.
As McAllister points out, there will only be five scholarship players going into that season. If Tyler Lydon or Tyus Battle were to declare for the draft following 2016-2017, that number could drop to three, leaving forward Matthew Moyer, center Paschal Chukwu and point guard Frank Howard as the only players on scholarship. This could change, however, if 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson ends up at Syracuse at the end of his very long and drawn out recruiting process. Even if they land Thompson, the scenario in which Lydon and Battle declare leaves Frank Howard as the only scholarship guard on the roster.
The graduate transfer market following next season obviously can't be determined at this point and most regular transfer players that would sit out next season have already chosen a destination. As McAllister says, one major potential target that is on the market is former five-star shooting guard Malik Newman, who averaged 11 points per game in his freshman season at Mississippi State.
After deciding to withdraw from the NBA Draft this past week, he was granted his release to transfer to another university. A 38-percent three-point shooter, he could be a major contributor at the two-guard in 2017-2018 after a year to develop, and even a solid starter if Tyus Battle decides to one-and-done. Newman was born and raised in the Southeast and may be hesitant to leave that region, but there aren't very many programs with the same prestige as Syracuse that has scholarships available for a transfer and can offer as golden an opportunity to make a contribution.
Outside of Newman and grad transfers, the only remaining option would be to bring in a massive 2017 recruiting class. As of now, Syracuse appears to be in good shape with point guard Quade Green. The Orange are also heavily targeting forward Jordan Tucker, forward Lonnie Walker, guard Brandon Rudolph, guard Ethan Thompson (son of former Syracuse player Stevie Thompson), center Nick Richards and guard Hamidou Diallo (who may or may not reclassify to the 2016 class, in which case Syracuse could be a favorite to land him).
There is no problem with going after a plethora of elite, potential one-and-done prospects to fill the gaps. The problem lies in the fact that recruiting is a very fickle process. A school could offer and prioritize each of the top 25 prospects in the country, but the chance still very much exists that they land few, to possibly even none of those targets. For all anybody knows, every priority prospect mentioned above could very well commit elsewhere. If Syracuse doesn't win the recruiting lottery in 2017, Boeheim will likely be left with no choice but to seek transfers.
What do you think Syracuse needs to do about this? Go all-out on transfers? Burn up the recruiting trail? Is there a third option out there?