While this season might have had its highs and its lows, the future for the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team should remain optimistic thanks to one of the program’s most promising class of 2024 recruits.
Donnie Freeman, a 6-foot-9 forward who plays for IMG Academy and committed to the Orange on May 11, moved to the top-10 in the latest On3 recruitment rankings for the class of 2024. This is a positive sign for the first recruiting class of the Adrian Autry era.
Freeman was ranked 36th when he originally committed to the Orange, but he’s steadily improved his standing among the 2024 recruits since transferring to IMG Academy for his senior year.
Freeman is currently rated as a five-star 2024 recruit by both On3 and ESPN. Tyler Ennis in 2013 marks the last time a five-star recruit committed to Syracuse (using On3’s recruitment rankings). On3 has Freeman ranked 10th, while ESPN placed him 19th overall among the class of 2024. He is currently rated as a four-star recruit by 247Sports and Rivals.com.
Most recently, Freeman was one of 24 players named to the 2024 McDonald’s All-American Game.
On the court, Freeman’s upside lies in how his blend of athleticism, versatility and basketball IQ can come together. He’s shown an ability to score at all three levels, and On3 in particular values his ability to shoot off the dribble or in catch-and-shoot situations. Based on how this season has played out, Freeman should help to mitigate some of the team’s current limitations in providing adequate spacing on offense.
On3 also praised his shot-blocking around the rim, and because he profiles like a big combo forward, there’s a realistic chance he could also slide down to the five. As On3 explains, his frame should translate pretty well to college hoops once he adds some more weight, but the template is there for a player who can play multiple positions and make an impact on both ends of the court.
Freeman should fit well regardless considering Syracuse’s current hole at the forward spot. Maliq Brown has emerged as a two-way starter, but injuries to Naheem McLeod and Mounir Hima thrusted him to play more time at the center spot. Junior forward Benny Williams was dismissed by the program on Monday, while Auburn transfer forward Chance Westry remains on the bench due to injury.
Currently, the Orange are stuck playing multi-guard lineups that can play with pace but struggle with more physically-opposing teams who can excel at crashing the glass and attacking the rim. Freeman should be able to slot into a prominent role and will in that missing piece, whether as a combo four or an incredibly versatile five.
While it feels like it’s a while away, the offseason will be here sooner rather than later and there will be plenty of questions about what the roster will look like for 2024-2025. Regardless of what happens, Freeman looks like he’ll play a prominent role in how next year will shake out.