With well over 400 players already in the transfer portal and several targets still available in the 2020 recruiting class, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is looking to fill in the roster gaps left by the departures of Brycen Goodine, Jalen Carey, Howard Washington, and most likely Elijah Hughes.
Additionally, Robert Braswell’s name is still being thrown out as a possible transfer, especially given the recent addition of Alan Griffin to the Syracuse roster.
So where do we stand with some of these players, and who are the main targets that the Orange are still pursuing? Let’s break down the list of possible suitors and try and bring some clarity to the current chaos that is the transfer portal.
Alan Griffin (Transfer from Illinois, Committed to Syracuse)
This was a big one. Griffin decided to transfer out of Illinois after averaging 8.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, and shooting 41 percent from three last year in roughly 18 minutes per game. If we extrapolate that out to per-36 numbers, Griffin would have averaged nearly 18 points and nine rebounds per contest. He was one of the most efficient players in the country in limited minutes.
Griffin is obviously being brought in to fill the void that Elijah Hughes will leave when he goes pro (which, while not a definite, is highly likely). The only problem there is that Griffin would need to sit out a season unless he is granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA. However, given the current pandemic and the fact that both his parents live within a three hour drive of Syracuse (Toronto and in the Southern Tier), it’s quite possible he gets that waiver.
Before everyone gets too ahead of themselves, let’s also consider that not every player can make a linear jump in efficiency with more minutes, especially when asked to do a lot more. Griffin would no longer be a third of fourth option on Illinois, he would be a focal point for the Orange, meaning he’d see more defensive attention and better defenders guarding him.
Additionally, the one major “knock” against Griffin is his defense, where he was sometimes caught out of position and didn’t have the best awareness. The zone will certainly help to cover those defensive deficiencies, but at the same time, with Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard already having some major issues of their own it could become an even bigger problem when the three are on the court together.
Regardless, Griffin has a ton of potential and is a tremendous get for the Orange. His scoring and rebounding will be an immediate boost, and he is tenacious on the offensive glass. He also has a high motor and above average athleticism. Oh, and he’ll also have two years in Orange.
There’s a lot to like about Alan Griffin.
Matt Haarms (Transfer from Purdue)
At 7-foot-3, 250 pounds, Matt Haarms is the ultimate big man. And after three seasons at Purdue, Haarms is looking to find a new landing spot to showcase his skills and hopefully use it as a platform to get to the NBA.
More than 20 schools reached out to Haarms within the first day that he entered his name, and Syracuse was one of them. Unfortunately, I think it’s a long shot that Haarms chooses the Orange. Haarms is looking for a school where he will be the focal point at center, and with Bourama Sidibe emerging late in the season, alongside Jesse Edwards and Jon Bol Ajak on the roster, he probably isn’t interested in such a crowded frontcourt (though he does know Edwards already).
If we were to somehow land Haarms, it would be a major get for the Orange. He is an elite rim protector who averaged two blocks per game. He would be a massive upgrade on the defensive end and could be the key to improving the Syracuse zone.
But as I said, it’s unlikely he picks the Orange.
Joshua Morgan (Transfer from Long Beach State)
Morgan is another interesting prospect. He was the defensive player of the year in the Big West last year after averaging 8.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. He is a beanpole at 6-foot-11 and 195 pounds, which probably makes many Syracuse fans cringe at his lack of weight. However, rumors are that he put on almost 20 pounds this season, and has the frame to put on more, so it might not be a Marek Dolezaj situation there.
The down side, as with Haarms, is that it’s a fairly long shot for the Orange to nab Morgan. He has received interest from Arizona, Oregon, USC, and a number of other West Coast schools and there’s a good chance he remains on the other side of the country.
If we do get Morgan, he would be another upgrade on the defensive end. Additionally, he has three years of eligibility left, so he would be a strong foundational block to build around for years to come.
Quincy Ballard (2020 Recruit from Syracuse)
Ballard came out of absolutely nowhere to pick up offers from Syracuse, Florida State, Cincinnati, NC State, and a few others in recent weeks. He’s also a hometown boy, having formerly played two seasons at Henninger High School in Syracuse. He’s also worked out previously with both Dajuan Coleman and Billy Edelin, so the Syracuse University connection is there and has been for a while.
The big problem with Ballard is that he’s an enigma. There is almost no footage of him playing, and most of the hype surrounding him has been driven by his own mother. The other problem is that he’s certainly not a lock for the Orange.
Even with the local connection, there is a strong chance that he picks Florida State or NC State over SU. Florida State offered him on April 4. Although Syracuse has kept an eye on him for years, they only just offered him on Wednesday, so it’s anyone’s guess on how high he is on the Orange — and conversely, how high we are on him. It almost feels a bit like a last minute token offer so that we don’t look foolish missing out on someone in our backyard. Obviously that’s just my perspective.
There’s a lot to like about a seven-footer that weighs around 240 pounds with a solid, muscular frame. But with so many unknowns surrounding him, this one wouldn’t be a devastating loss right now.
Ballard makes his college decision on Saturday.