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Jim Boeheim called into “On The Block” to defend recruiting after missing on Cole Swider

Boeheim, rightfully so, defended his program and staff.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Boeheim was driving home on Friday and felt the need to call into Brent Axe’s afternoon sports talk show “On The Block,” which can be heard from 4-6 p.m. ET on ESPN Syracuse.

Axe was discussing SU basketball recruiting, and more specifically the news that Class of 2018 four-star forward Cole Swider had verbally committed to Villanova earlier in the day.

Does it hurt? Obviously. Losing any Top 50 recruit hurts. But is it really that big of a deal? No, it isn’t.

For the first time (maybe ever?), Jim Boeheim publicly agreed with Axe about how difficult recruiting can be, but more importantly sometimes missing on one prospect opens a door that most wouldn’t expect.

Syracuse missed on Julius Hodge and landed Hakim Warrick — and we all know what happened after that.

I was very critical of the coaching staff towards the end of the 2017 recruiting cycle, and I stand by that criticism. Syracuse had quite a few spots to fill and didn’t have much momentum after missing out on a handful of notable prospects.

But Jim Boeheim and his staff landed Marek Dolezaj, Geno Thorpe and Elijah Hughes to round out the ‘17 class. And, when you think about it, Syracuse already has a 2018 commit in Hughes, who won’t be eligible until next season.

Jim Boeheim called Hughes “a Top 30 player in the country” during his surprise appearance with Axe on Friday. He had watched Hughes back in high school when he was at South Kent, and he saw the talent then. However, at the time, Syracuse was in the middle of their scholarship reduction and didn’t have a scholarship for Hughes.

He also said Oshae Brissett, a freshman on this year’s team, is a Top 30 player but didn’t get the credit he deserved because he didn’t play AAU ball in the States nor was he evaluated on every recruiting outlet. The same goes for Howard Washington, who Boeheim called a very good point guard.

Now, as for the 2018 cycle — there’s a lot of work to be done. No one can question that. Boeheim said he’d like to add a big man, a shooting guard and point guard in this class. Darius Bazley, a former Ohio State commit, is on campus this weekend for an unofficial visit.

He’s at the top of the SU coaches list, and rightfully so.

And as for missing on Swider, there’s a ton of time to make it up. Like I said, the criticism for the staff with the ‘17 class was more about how many spots they needed in such a short period.

Everything worked out, and I have a feeling it will again in ‘18.

Having Swider announce this early helps Syracuse, too. Now the staff can move on to other prospects and try to lock down another forward.

And there are plenty of prospects still left on the ‘18 board.