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Syracuse men’s basketball recruiting: What now after Dior Johnson decommitted for 2022?

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SU goes from top-five class to starting from scratch.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Less than 24 hours ago, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team had one of the top recruiting classes for 2022. Dior Johnson was the only name in the door, but the top-five prospect had SU well-situated for its best class in years.

And then, as you now know, he reopened his recruitment process (aka, decommitted). It was apparently a mutual decision, and we do wish Dior well with whatever his next step is — and it very well may be the NBA or G League.

But without Johnson, Syracuse needs to reevaluate 2022’s recruiting class. We’re not screwed by any means. But obviously Dior was a draw to potentially land other top players in the class. So what now?

First, a look at who else has offers already.

(all rankings are from 247Sports composite)

Guards

Zion Cruz, G (5 stars, No. 17 overall)

Honestly, Cruz could very well be another guy who opts to go pro instead of playing college ball. There was a chance that Johnson was a draw to having him play at SU, but with that possibility gone, he’s open to any number of other offers. Like Dior, Cruz just transferred schools again himself and if the Orange are wary about too much moving around from an academic standpoint, it would see Cruz is less likely to be a priority.

Chance Westry, G (4 stars, No. 27 overall)

Westry, on the other hand, seems to be a kid more likely to play a year of college ball. The combo guard plays for Sierra Canyon in Southern California, and while Dior’s commitment to Syracuse probably helped their odds of landing Westry, he also seems like he’ll make his own decision. Syracuse and Maryland appear to be the top schools in pursuit right now, and he’s already visited the Orange (earlier this year, just before COVID). Landing Westry should be the No. 1 priority now, as a catalyst for an elite class.

JJ Starling, PG (4 stars, No. 53 overall)

Originally from nearby Baldwsinsville, Starling now plays for La Lumiere School in Indiana. Given the fact that he’s a local prospect, he’d seem to be a priority, yet with other players (Dior, Cruz, Westry) prioritized to this point in the recruiting process, it’ll be interesting to see if Syracuse can get back to the top of his radar. Starling currently has offers from SU, St. John’s, Alabama and Siena, so they stand a decent chance. But there’s interest from other big P5 programs, even if no offers have come yet.

Roddy Gayle, SG (4 stars, No. 76 overall)

Another New York prospect, Gayle’s making his decision on November 13, but Ohio State is thought to be the front-runner at this point. Given that SU’s apparently known about the Dior news for weeks and Gayle just announced his decision date, you’d think that factored into how hard ‘Cuse was pushing for him. He’s likely a Buckeye, unfortunately.

Forwards

Jarace Walker, PF (5 stars, No. 9 overall)

Syracuse offered Walker back in June, and he’s only piled up the offers since from schools around the country. Right now, the IMG (originally from Pennsylvania) prospect seems to be favoring Auburn, Maryland and Michigan over the rest, and he certainly looks like a future first round pick. Landing a player like Westry would certainly help SU’s chances with Walker. But he’s also someone who already has the talent could go pro if NBA rules change.

Kamari Lands, SF (4 stars, No. 38 overall)

Though Lands has only held a Syracuse offer since June, the Orange are arguably the top program currently involved with his recruiting process as the other offers include DePaul, Miami (OH), Texas Tech and Xavier. The 6-foot-8, 195-pound wing has perfect length for this 2-3 zone and is currently attending Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif. — which happens to be where 2020 addition Frank Anselem went to school. Hopefully he puts in a good word.

Donovan Clingan, C (4 stars, No. 44 overall)

Cingan, from Bristol (CT), is the 44th-ranked prospect in the class. So he pretty much has to come to Syracuse. But since he’s 7-foot-1 and 255 pounds, he obviously has plenty of other suitors. According to an interview with Clingan back in July, SU, UConn and Michigan State seem to be the top names on the list right now (or at least the teams pushing the hardest). As ZagsBlog noted, he averaged nearly 25 points and over 17 points this past season. ‘Cuse could obviously use some of that offensive prowess inside.

Ty Rodgers, SF (4 stars, No. 50 overall)

SU’s staff has been pursuing Rodgers — a Grand Blanc, Mich. product — pretty heavily this fall, so that could mean a couple things. Either the Orange are trying to earn commitments from both Lands and Rodgers, or they don’t feel great about their odds on Lands. Though Rodgers lacks the same size on paper (he’s 6-foot-6 and 180 pounds), he displays inside scoring skill and leaping ability. That’s more than enough to keep going after the top-50 player.

Justin Taylor, SF (4 stars, No. 82 overall)

Mike McAllister recently profiled Taylor and his recruitment, and it seems like he’s another major priority for Syracuse in this cycle (also maybe another indication that Lands may be out of reach already). While also 6-foot-6, like Rodgers, he has another 20 pounds on him and seems to be impressing evaluators even without games. With offers from the likes of Indiana, Maryland, NC State, Virginia Tech and others, getting a commitment will be no easy feat. His apparent closeness with assistant coach Gerry McNamara should help a bit, however.

Chris Bunch, SF (4 stars, No. 120 overall)

Though the wings above him may be slightly higher priorities, Bunch has similar size to the rest and a ton of interest from all over the country — including FSU, Maryland, Iowa State, Oklahoma, USC and others. For what it’s worth, 247’s own rankings have him as a top-100 prospect, while other rankings are pulling him down a bit. To me, the fact that FSU and Maryland are in on him indicates that he has high upside.

Yann Farrell, SF (4 stars, No. 129 overall)

UConn could be the favorite right now, though the fact that he’s at Brewster Academy (in N.H.) should help SU out given Buddy Boeheim and Kadary Richmond both played there. Farrell is 6-foot-7, and has offers from the likes of Maryland, Miami, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and others, along with SU and the Huskies. In a recent interview, he noted a lot of love for both the Orange and UConn. And while he seemed to like SU’s offense, the zone seemed like something he’d have to warm up to.

Riley Mulvey, C (3 stars, No. 218 overall)

It’s hard to find size, so when you have a 6-foot-11, 230-pound center in nearby Albany, you should probably extend an offer — even if he’s “only” a three-star prospect. ‘Cuse seems to be in the running along with Iowa and Penn State, though the Nittany Lions’ recent struggles could possibly take them out of Mulvey and other players’ recruiting processes. 247Sports’ crystal ball has Iowa as the favorites, but the Orange aren’t out of it just yet.

Syracuse v Georgetown Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

So that’a already a lot of names, yet it’s also not an exhaustive list of players, either.

Just this week, McAllister noted that Syracuse is going after point guard Bryce Lindsay, who attends Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. He’s currently unranked (though I’ve seen him referred to offhand as a four-star player), but has offers from Georgetown, LaSalle, Virginia Tech and others. One would think he’s insurance. Or more of a depth add assuming they’d lose at least one of the top guards on the list above after a year, should they wind up at SU.

At shooting guard, Kyle Cuffe Jr.’s been shown some interest and attended a Syracuse camp last year. But like Starling, he’s only 6-foot-2 and isn’t ranked as highly (109th) as some of these other guards SU is pursuing this cycle. Georgia, Kansas State and St. John’s seem to be frontrunners anyway, so TBD if the Orange could even make a move if they wanted to at this point.

Additionally, there are depth adds like small forward Randi Ovalle and center Tichyque Musaka. Ovalle, from Charlotte, seems to be more of a depth fit. He has offers from P5 programs like Illinois, Mississippi State and Washington State. You’d think he’d wind up at one of those if he had a clearer path to playing time than he would at SU.

As for Musaka, he’s 6-foot-10 and 200 pounds. Though he’s currently unrated, the Congolese big man — currently playing in San Jose — has been collecting top offers all over the country from the likes of Kansas, Marquette, Oregon, TCU and USC. With the KU offer, one would assume that Syracuse is probably backing off, and spending energy elsewhere.

Does anything above paint a clearer picture for Syracuse? Not necessarily. But Jim Boeheim’s staff does have a lot of offers out there to top players already, and with those established inroads, they’re far from out of it with regard to adding elite players to replace Dior Johnson in this class.

To me, there’s a reality where they add Westry, Rodgers, Taylor and perhaps Mulvey, which is a fine class that would definitely rank among the top 25 in the country. But do you have other ideas? Share your own thoughts below.