Eric Ayala, a Class of 2018 point guard prospect, is one of SU’s most sought after players left in this recruiting cycle.
The irony, however, is that Ayala still hasn’t declared himself a 2017 prospect, meaning part of SU’s recruiting pitch is to get him to come to college one year sooner than planned.
Ayala told Chris Carlson from syracuse.com that he doesn’t have a timetable, or a list of schools, in his recruitment, which leaves the Orange in a tough position moving forward.
The Orange have been rumored to have shown interest in Tremont Waters, although there have been conflicting reports regarding his recruitment. Should SU act on Waters or roll the dice for Ayala? Well, that’s recruiting and that’s why everything is a gamble.
“It’s all about my timing and when I want to do things,” Ayala told Carlson. “At the end of the day, [Syracuse] wants me. They’re recruiting me. Of course, I need them. But I’m going to do things on my time. It’s all about timing. ... You might not be ready physically or mentally. When you step on the court, you want to be ready to play against those bigger guys, stronger guys. I’m working on my game so when I step on the floor in college I can make an immediate impact.”
Ayala is key on being someone’s priority, and he has the attention from the Syracuse basketball coaching staff.
And as for any eligibility concerns, there are none. Ayala told Carlson that he has his test scores and grades and wouldn’t have any trouble joining a program for the 2017-18 season from an academic viewpoint.
Tom Espinosa, Ayala’s coach at Putnam Science Academy, tells coaches that Ayala is 50-50 on whether he’ll reclassify. And deep down, he’s unsure what his star point guard will do, too.
There are four schools that are trying to get Ayala to reclassify to 2017, although he declined to mention who. Oregon and Syracuse are two of them, however.
And for those wondering, Gerry McNamara is Ayala’s primary recruiter.
What I found to be the most interesting part of Carlson’s piece, and maybe the most concerning from an SU standpoint was this:
Ayala, though, obsesses over every angle and sees reason for concern as well.
He noted that Syracuse missed the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years last year. And while head coach Jim Boeheim's contract was extended this offseason, the lack of public details about the contract terms creates uncertainty, even for a player who harbors dreams of leaving school early for the NBA.
"You can get more knowledge, see where the program goes," Ayala said when asked why he might prefer to remain in high school for another year when he is already wanted. "It wasn't a down year but they didn't make the tournament. Next year, if I come back, I can see how they go from there. Coach Boeheim might leave and I wouldn't even know, and I'd have to build a relationship with a whole new coach.”
SU kept Ayala updated throughout Mike Hopkins’ departure, and Boeheim and Ayala have had very good conversations, he said. When asked, he wished to keep them between he and the Hall of Famer.
And with all of this recruiting going on with Ayala and major decisions coming, he’s preparing for another year of AAU basketball that tips off shortly. He was clear that he’s still high on Syracuse for when decision time comes.
The Orange still have three open scholarships for next season.