While the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball season looms over the horizon, the program has been busy behind the scenes working toward the upcoming 2023 recruiting class.
SU faces a difficult road ahead in maintaining the historical success of men’s basketball. For this season, just three players on the Orange’s roster are seniors. An astounding nine players on the team are underclassmen, six of which are incoming freshmen.
Moving forward, Syracuse will be embracing a new direction for a team that has consistently been the best of the best in the NCAA. With recruitment season beginning for the Orange, there are many factors at play to watch in the upcoming months.
The Future of Coach Boeheim
It’s no secret: head coach Jim Boeheim has been incredibly important for Syracuse since he took the job back in 1976. The coaching resume, success, and deep postseason runs are well documented.
Yet, it’s hard to imagine that there isn’t too much gas left in the coach Boeheim tank. After all, Boeheim was originally supposed to retire in 2018 before signing a new contract. Boeheim’s son, Buddy, played his first season with the Orange just months after his father’s original retirement timeline.
Boeheim has remained on the Syracuse sidelines an additional four seasons as head coach since his near-retirement and continues to remain adamant about continuing his coaching career moving forward:
Boy, sounds like Joe Boeheim is really adamant on returning to Syracuse next year @CBSSports @CBSSportsCBB pic.twitter.com/Yb94szkgac— NunesMagician.com (@NunesMagician) February 27, 2022
But there’s a Greg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs-like relationship between Boeheim and Syracuse. It isn’t necessarily a problem, but it certainly doesn’t solve the Orange’s recent woes with recruiting quality talent.
In terms of recruitment, Syracuse is known more for what the men’s team has achieved in the past than what it looks to achieve in the future. The Orange doesn’t have the same charm or appeal that it once had for much of the 2000s. The ‘Cuse basketball brand is iconic and historically successful, but it’s also stuck in past accomplishments that no longer exist in the present day.
The recruiting misses run the gamut from the verbal commitment of five-star 2020 Dior Johnson and the prospects of an all-star group of players committed to joining him at Syracuse to four-star prospect Drew Fielder, who committed to Providence over Syracuse after receiving interest from the Orange.
In recent years, the Orange have struggled to acquire talent against the most elite of collegiate basketball programs:
Syracuse Men’s Basketball Recruitment Rankings:
2018: 43rd in Overall Rank, 43rd in Composite Rank
2019: 33rd in Overall Rank, 33rd in Composite Rank
2020: 43rd in Overall Rank, 42nd in Composite Rank
2021: 80th in Overall Rank, 78th in Composite Rank
2022: 22nd in Overall Rank, 19th in Composite Rank
Would a change of the guard make Syracuse’s recruitment more successful? Based on the success of the 2022 class, the answer leans towards no, but with coach Boeheim’s future uncertain and his appeal as an asset for incoming prospects waning, uncertainty looms over whether 2022 recruitment was an abnormality or a resurgence.
The NIL Bidding Wars
The new rules for name, image, and likeness (NIL) created a new era for recruitment. Right now, it seems like even sources from outside MBB are willing to contribute to the Orange’s recruitment efforts.
Adam Weitsman, a well-known Syracuse sports enthusiast, offered $1 million to one five-star football prospect and one five-star basketball prospect.
NIL is radically changing the decades-long system for how basketball prospects decide on their futures.
Is Syracuse behind the new NIL curve?
Was the Kamari Lands decision partially because #Syracuse is not spending enough time discussing NIL with recruits?— Locked On Syracuse (@LO_Syracuse) August 26, 2021
We discussed this on the pod today with @MatthewGut21 and more.
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The Orange have struggled to attract five-star basketball recruits in recent history. Not counting the Dior Johnson commitment, SU hasn’t landed a five-star since Chris McCullough of the 2014 recruiting class.
Maybe some financial incentive could bring the star prospects to the 315.
The NBA’s new CBA
It can’t be overlooked how the importance of the NBA and the NBA’s G-League Ignite play a role in collegiate recruitment.
Per reporter Shams Charania, the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) could reduce draft eligibility from 19 to 18 and reopen the door for high school prospects to jump straight to the NBA.
There is still much negotiation that needs to be done between the NBA Player’s Association and the league. Yet, this will have somewhat positive implications for the Orange.
Syracuse could benefit from an even playing field. If MBB can maintain its recruitment of three-star and four-star prospects, it could be as competitive as some of the best programs in the country, especially if one-and-done prospects opt for the NBA instead of a stand-alone season in college.
2023 Recruitment Class
Syracuse has struggled to land recruits in the 2023 class as just one of four ACC programs without a commit. Currently, the Orange have offered 12 prospects and missed on priority targets JP Estrella and Reid Ducharme. After those misses, Syracuse offered a 6-foot-10 big man in Drew Fielder, who recently committed to Providence.
Syracuse is also interested in Mike Williams, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard who has offers from multiple ACC schools, mostly notably Clemson and Wake Forest. Williams could fit nicely next to high-upside player Judah Mintz.
While Syracuse is now focusing on bouncing back after an underwhelming 2021-2022 campaign, it’s never too early for the team to begin its outlook for the future.