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Syracuse men’s basketball: Adrian Autry’s focusing on familiar territory to build his program

It makes sense to steer the ship into seas you know

Virginia Tech v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

Adrian Autry’s start to his tenure as Syracuse Orange head coach has seen its fair share of ups and downs. A couple of program mainstays have left Central New York, but the talent coming in isn’t anything to scoff at. Transfers in JJ Starling and Chance Westry have helped soften the blow of the departures.

Of course, transfers aren’t the only way to build a roster. The Orange recruiting trail is in full swing this summer. Syracuse recently picked up a commitment from Donnie Freeman, a top-40 recruit in the class of 2024. The Orange also continue to offer recruits this offseason, as noted by our Ben Sigel a couple weeks ago.

There is a trend to Syracuse’s recruitment strategy, and it’s about hitting the areas that Autry and his staff know well. The Orange seem to be re-focusing their energy on top prospects from the 95 corridor from NYC to the DMV. With Autry and Allen Griffin having their roots in NYC and Gerry McNamara’s legend status in Pennsylvania, it seems as though Syracuse wants to build out from their base. Freeman is from the DC area, Syracuse’s other 2024 commit Elijah Moore is from NYC and Philly’s Jalil Bethea is a top 2024 target.

Some of the recruits, like Freeman, also have ties to Team Takeover, an AAU program in DC that Autry was an assistant for before he entered the college coaching ranks. Syracuse’s newest assistant coach, Brenden Straughn, is also a former assistant for Team Takeover. One of the main reasons that Syracuse was a remote contender in the Hunter Dickinson sweepstakes was because of the Team Takeover connection.

Autry’s primary recruitment area was the DMV during his time as an assistant for Jim Boeheim, and he’s using those connections to start building his Orange program. Like former Orange star Jerami Grant, both Judah Mintz and Benny Williams were Autry recruits from the DMV. The duo rank as the highest-rated Syracuse recruits since Tyus Battle and Freeman is currently positioned to join them.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse Head Coach Introductory Press Conference Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

There have been grumblings about Syracuse’s recruiting efforts as of late, especially with ACC rivals in Duke and North Carolina routinely bringing in 5-star recruits that the Orange fanbase desperately want. Those concerns were also raised when New York players like Isaiah Stewart and Thomas Bryant declined to join the Orange for other programs.

But Autry has quietly been one of Syracuse’s most important recruiters over the past decade, and his DMV connections are key to his success. The Orange have a history of grabbing top-tier prospects from DC, and Autry hopes to continue that trend. If Syracuse wants to ascend back to the top of the college basketball world, the new Orange head coach is using an area that he knows well to rebuild Central New York’s premier basketball program back into a powerhouse.