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Mailbox Monday: Syracuse recruiting, assistant coaches & 2017-18 expectations

We discuss a wide variety of Syracuse basketball topics in this edition of Mailbox Monday.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Louisville
Syracuse Orange forward Taurean Thompson (12) tries to pass the ball under the pressure of Louisville Cardinals forward Mangok Mathiang (12) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Syracuse 88-68.
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Most Mondays, TNIAAM will do a Mailbox Monday where readers can send in Syracuse Orange questions to Twitter (@cusesigel) or (@NunesMagician).

In this week’s edition, we discuss this year’s team, next year’s team, recruiting and much, much more.


Who is on the non-conference schedule next season? (@MidMajorMatt)

Right now, we don’t know beyond Kansas and Georgetown (and maybe St. John’s?). The university won’t release the non-conference opponents until this fall. Normally all of the match-ups will leak, but right now there’s nothing official about the majority of the opponents. You can likely expect the typical Colgate and Cornell games, and an ACC/Big Ten Challenge opponent as well.

How will Hopkins leaving affect our standing with targets in the loaded 2018 class? (@theryanwalsh)

The one target I think this directly affects a lot is Naz Reid, a five-star forward from Roselle Catholic (NJ). The two were developing a very good relationship. Now whether Naz loves Syracuse for Syracuse, or was drawn to SU because of Hop — that’s remain to be seen. His coach, Dave Boff, was unsure of the impact when I spoke with him last week. In the 2019 class, Isaiah Stewart is one to watch. He and Hop were very close.

I know it’s early, but what are the realistic expectations for this team next season? (@Sportsfan370).

I think it’s all about who else SU can add. If they can get another scorer and maybe another guard — I’d feel better heading into next season. But as of right now, the three scholarship players coming off the bench are all freshmen. That’s worrisome. If SU makes the NCAA tournament -- consider that a win at this point.

With the sanctions ending this summer that involves the number of coaches out recruiting, do you think we will be able to close on top talent? (@Cuse_Zone)

I don’t see why not. To me, having multiple coaches on the trail is important — but they need to be effective. For example, Syracuse was after Quade Green forever, visited him a bunch, he visited here a bunch and he ended up at Kentucky. So the meetings, visits and talks all have to be productive, but having another coach on the road always helps. The next assistant coach is going to be interesting — it has to be someone with strong recruiting ties.

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Who are the most realistic hires to replace Hopkins? (@Rich072770)

This is a tough question, but I’ll give a few names I think will be considered. Kip Wellman, who’s currently at Syracuse and has been since 2013, was an assistant at Western Kentucky. He’s the Director of Basketball Operations at SU and understands the program in and out. Is he ready to make the jump to assistant coach? I don’t know. Plus, if Boeheim was ready to promote him, I have a feeling it would’ve happened by now. Allen Griffin is the other name. It’ll be interesting to see if he goes with Archie Miller to Indiana, or wants to come home to Syracuse and work under Jim Boeheim. Ryan Blackwell is another name, as he’s coaching in Central New York — at the high school level. Is he ready to make the jump to D-I? Time will tell.

Anything on Tremont Waters or Jordan Tucker? (@celts_pats_sox_)

Waters still hasn’t been released from Georgetown, and I have a feeling he’ll wait to see who the Hoyas hire as their next head coach. As for Tucker, Syracuse is back in his recruitment — which is great news. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Orange get an official visit out of Tucker at some point. He’s considering SU, Indiana, Oregon, Georgia Tech and Villanova.

Do you think Frank Howard will make a jump next year and turn his Syracuse career around? (@thubbard533)

It’s definitely possible, but I also thought he was going to have a very good sophomore season and that didn’t happen. This is cliche, but it’s up to Frank on how his Syracuse career will turn out. If he’s willing to put in the work, bond with his teammates and get his game to the next level — anything is possible. He has the talent, he just needs to put it all together.

Should I buy my tickets for the Final Four now, or later? (YankeesGod2722)

Later, but I like the positive attitude.

Three open scholarship for next season — best case for spots? (@RivDawg15)

Adding Ayala would be key. I’d also add Jordan Tucker to the list along with a graduate transfer. Whoever the graduate transfer is — hypothetically — will need to know his place from the beginning. Next year’s team isn’t a Final Four contender, and that may be tough for fifth-year seniors to accept during their final year of eligibility.

Buddy Boeheim commits to SU and coach walks off into the sunset after his senior year. Thoughts? (@kayakibanz)

I’ve heard this theory, and it makes sense. It wouldn’t totally shock me. It seems like Boeheim will be here probably five more years — so if the numbers end up adding up, why not?


As always, thanks to everyone for the questions — we’ll do it again next week!