With the announcement that guards Jalen Carey, Brycen Goodine, and Howard Washington are all transferring, and forward Elijah Hughes is likely to go pro, the Syracuse men’s basketball team has some roster holes to fill by the start of next season. Although it’s not a certainty the Orange staff will do so, SU would of course benefit from having a balanced team with sufficient depth.
Currently, Syracuse’s roster for next season consists of guards Joe Girard III, Buddy Boeheim, and Kadary Richmond, forwards Elijah Hughes, Marek Dolezaj, Quincy Guerrier, Robert Braswell, and Woody Newton, and centers Bourama Sidibe, Jesse Edwards, and John Bol Ajak. That’s 11 out of 13 allowed scholarship players, and 10 if Hughes leaves.
Positionally, the Orange staff should focus on the guard and wing spots, as the team seems to be in decent shape regarding big men. Looking at Girard III, Boeheim, and Richmond, there are a few weaknesses that stick out that SU should address with a backcourt addition. First is the need for a true point guard. Girard III, whose best weapon is his 3-point shot, had the ball in his hands a lot this season and forced a lot of shots, leading to inconsistent shooting that didn’t seem to reflect his true ability. And although billed as a point guard with size, Richmond, a freshman next season, didn’t start playing the position until this past year at Brewster Academy.
Another weakness is defense, as starters Girard III and Buddy Boeheim struggled at the top of the zone this season. At times, they looked gassed on the court and played too many minutes, so having strong backups would improve their overall efficiency.
To fill out the roster, adding a polished forward with a good perimeter shot would help make up for the potential scoring loss of Hughes, as well as the uncertainty around Braswell’s health and development and how ready Newton will be. With five forwards currently on the roster for next season, Hughes’ NBA Draft decision in the next few months will give the staff a better idea of how much it needs to add another player to the position.
The potential loss of four scholarship players is a blow to the Orange on both sides of the ball, but they can make up for it with some smart additions. Syracuse can either pick up a graduate transfer who will be immediately eligible, or try to get a late addition in the 2020 freshman class. The latter seems less likely, as the Orange only have two offers out to two uncommitted 2020 recruits, per 247 Sports — one is listed as “cool,” while the other didn’t put the Orange in his final three schools.
But going the grad transfer route isn’t necessarily a bad option. There’s a good chance one would be more ready to contribute, which the Orange will need if they lose Hughes’ production. And it’s also not like there aren’t enough options. The college basketball season has been over for about a week, and as of this writing there are already 385 players in the transfer portal, a good amount of them immediately eligible. The number should grow considerably in the coming weeks, and hopefully the Orange land a player or a few that fit their needs.