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Syracuse men’s basketball: what does Judah Mintz’s return mean for the Orange?

Expectations are no longer rational.

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse Orange fans got the best news of the spring with the announcement that Judah Mintz is returning for the 2023-24 season.

We sent up the Nunes signal to get some thoughts on the impact on next year’s squad.

What do you think will be the starting five for Syracuse next season?

Kevin: I’ve got Mintz, Starling, Bell, Williams and McLeod as the starting group. It also means that Chance Westry and/or Quadir Copeland could be used at the SF position and if Autry wants to get wild he could play Benny some minutes at the 5.

Christian: Judah Mintz, Chris Bell, Benny Williams and Naheem McLeod are the locks. With Mintz returning, I think it’s actually a toss-up between JJ Starling and Chance Westry for the final starting spot. I’ll say Starling for now, but if Westry or even Justin Taylor show consistent scoring, especially from the outside, they could squirm into the starting rotation.

Mike: I’ll switch it up just a bit here with Judah & J.J. in the backcourt, Benny and Maliq Brown as the forwards and the 7’4” Philly/FSU export at center. But this is the deepest bench the Orange have rostered in a long time - Autry will spread minutes around and could even play three guards in a man-defense. Bell, Westry, and others will still see the court plenty.

Dom: Mintz, Starling, and McLeod are guaranteed locks and a great foundation to build upon with the starting lineup. Ideally, I’d say slotting in both Bell and Williams together gives the Orange a nice blend of size, athleticism, shooting, and defensive versatility at the wing spots. As Mike noted, however, the fact we’re even having this discussion shows the amount of quality depth Syracuse possesses entering next season.

Szuba: Going to be original here and say Mintz, Starling, Bell, Williams and McLeod. I mean, who else are you going to go with?

Do you think Judah’s return will push Syracuse to a pre-season top 25 selection?

Kevin: Probably just outside looking in as most people will want to see what Starling and McLeod can do first.

Christian: Not even close. There isn’t a great view on the program nationally with a first-year head coach and a lot of unproven talent outside of Mintz. The Orange have a long way to go before being recognized as contenders in the national spotlight.

Mike: Preseason? No way. But I’ll bet two years’ worth of NunesBucks™ that the Orange get to that point after an explosive start to the season.

Dom: Mintz raises the floor, to be sure. With that said, there’s still lots of unknowns to factor in. How much will Syracuse’s returning players improve and the quality of production from the incoming transfers? Unknown. Does Syracuse have the potential to be ranked by midseason? Without a doubt.

Szuba: No, but if Jesse Edwards... ok nevermind. Syracuse has a chance to be a good basketball team but not nationally ranked in the presesaon. It’ll be a hard climb into the AP Top 25. Unless this team somehow wins a loaded Maui Invitational, it’s hard to think this team will be ranked early for the same reasons that Christian and Dom raised.

Is it now realistic to expect Adrian Autry to make the NCAA Tournament in his first season?

Kevin: Who cares about realism? Let’s #daretodream.....but seriously I think this puts the Orange in a much better position to get back to the Tournament.

Christian: Right now, it’s close. There are too many unknowns, especially when it comes to scheme and untapped potential on the roster. I think it’s yes, but just barely. Knowing Syracuse, this’ll be a 2016/18/21 year where the Orange are a double-digit seed and somehow make the Sweet 16.

Mike: Red said himself in his intro press conference that he wants to get back to the Orange Standard of competing for championships. I would be hesitant to expect such a massive turnaround if it wasn’t for how much the players clearly have his back. It’s going to be a fun locker room and that can only help the on-court product.

Dom: With Mintz back in the fold, it’s hard not to say absolutely. So much went wrong last season, and Orange fans can count on Autry embracing versatility and lineup adaptation as well as the program having enough depth to withstand different looks. The ceiling of this team could easily be a tournament team that wins a few games, as Christian noted.

Szuba: Mintz assures a proven scoring talent on Syracuse’s roster, meaning Autry won’t have to rely on a team of players still looking to prove themselves at the college level. Of course, some players will make the leap and the program returns players who gained valuable experience — keeping the freshman class intact is hardly insignificant. That, and the staff made all the hard but necessary moves in the offseason. All of that is positive momentum and gives the team a chance. There’s still much to be determined but to answer the question directly, yes. In my mind, Mintz is the kind of talent that gets Syracuse over the hump and into the NCAA Tournament.


Now let’s hear what you think about this news? What deal did you make with the basketball gods to get Judah to come back to Syracuse? Be honest because they are watching....