The Fizz spoke to several of the highly-touted prep stars who were wowed by Melo and friends.
Syracuse’s Midnight Madness extravaganza Friday night was much different than previous ones, and there’s a solid chance it will pay recruiting dividends for the Orange down the road. The Fizz caught up with several recruits on hand for the festivities.
Surely, both fans and participants had a blast. The legends game was a once-in-a-lifetime type of event, Melo brought his superstardom back to the Salt City, and the the Three Amigos made their Carrier Dome-playing debut.
But this was less about the past or the present, and more about the future. The most important people in the building were by far the recruits. As long as the bright lights, the famous alumni, and the lipsyncing of rapper Meek Mill endeared Syracuse to them, that’s all that matters.
Here’s a roundup of how their evenings went, and how each of them are feeling about SU:
Nerlens Noel – 6’10’’, 205 lbs, Center
School: Tilton School (Tilton, NH)
Hometown: Everett, MA
On the Carrier Dome atmosphere: “It’s real crazy, it’s just a great experience coming out here. It’s just a great environment. The fans are into it, and that’s just something to look forward to if you want to play at a school like this, and I really enjoyed the night.”
On what makes the Orange stand out: “They just got a great coaching staff, they’re honest, upfront, and they just keep it real. I love the fans, they’ve got a great environment here, and great tradition. You see all the alumni come back playing in the [legends] game, and it’s just a great experience to come out here.”
On the timetable for his decision: “I’m just slowly narrowing down some schools. But it’s more of a wide open thing, just talking to some schools, getting a good feel for them.”
The top center in his class still appears to be in the early stages of the recruiting process, but it’s a fantastic sign that he chose to attend Syracuse’s Midnight Madness over a number of other options. He can pretty much take his pick of Final Four contenders, he has offers from elite programs like Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UConn as well.
Goodluck Okonoboh – 6’9’’, 215 lbs, Center
School: Tilton School (Tilton, NH)
Hometown: Boston, MA
On what he took from the visit: “I talked to Carmelo, Hakim Warrick, Donte Greene, and they all say ‘Cuse is the place to be. I’m still keeping my options open but I like the ‘Cuse a lot.”
On how much he has narrowed down his school choices: “I’m not breaking it down by list yet, but over the summer I should come out with a definite at least top 15, top 10.”
On his conversations with the coaches: “I talked to Coach Boeheim. He’s just a real nice guy, telling me that we could fit into Syracuse’s defense and offense very well.”
The uniquely-named big man recruit has a much lower profile than his high school teammate, Noel. But that doesn’t mean he’s not highly sought after – he says he has so many scholarship offers that he can’t even count them. Goodluck holds an SU offer, and like Noel, has a long way to go before he picks a school. It will be interesting to see if Okonoboh wants to attend the same college as his Tilton School pal, or if he would rather emerge from Noel’s shadow and choose a different program.
Tyler Ennis – 6’2’’, 180 lbs, Point Guard
School: St. Benedict’s Prep
Hometown: Brampton, ON, Canada
On what he learned from spending time with the team all day: “It just shows how college is and how serious that you practice, and how much of a family it is.”
On what he specifically likes about SU: “It’s close to home. I like how they have a family atmosphere. Even when you graduate, you’re still a part of the Syracuse family.”
If he chooses the Orange, Ennis would join Kris Joseph and Andy Rautins as recent Canadians for SU. He’s a pass-first player and a steadying influence on offense. None of the major recruiting services even list Syracuse as a possibility for Ennis, so it was a surprise that he attended Midnight Madness.
When asked if the Orange has offered him a scholarship, Ennis said that he had no idea. He claimed that his father handles that aspect of the recruiting process. That’s hard to believe, but it’s still unknown if he holds a ‘Cuse offer. Judging by the fact that Ennis chose to spend last Friday night in Syracuse, and not somewhere else, it stands to reason that Boeheim has extended him an offer. He would be an impressive get – he’s a consensus top ten point guard in his class.
Isaiah Briscoe – 6’1’’, 185 lbs, Point Guard
School: St. Benedict’s Prep
Hometown: Union, NJ
On whether Ennis’s eventual decision will impact his: “It doesn’t really influence my decision, but we talk about colleges and stuff. He tells me what’s good and what’s not good and what are point guard schools and what aren’t point guard schools.”
On what it felt like being around the Syracuse program: “My sister goes here, so I know a lot of [the players]. It feels good, I feel welcome, like family.”
On if he spends a lot of time in Syracuse because of sister: “Every time I get a break I’m up here working out, having fun.”
Briscoe has two interesting family connections. As he mentioned, his sister, Iasia Hemingway, attends Syracuse and plays on the women’s basketball team. The young point guard also happens to be the second cousin of Kyrie Irving, the number one overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
He says that Ennis, his high school teammate, is “like a brother” to him. Briscoe has the potential to be an even better prospect that Ennis. He’s an explosive player, and tells The Fizz that his doctor said he’ll grow to 6’5’’. A similarly tall point guard, Michael Carter-Williams, is a Syracuse freshman. Amazing to think this far in advance, but the Orange has the inside track to land MCW’s replacement.
There’s a glaring piece missing here – the presence of anyone from the ’12 recruiting class besides already committed Jerami Grant. Dajuan Coleman chose to experience Kentucky’s Midnight Madness instead of SU’s, and Amile Jefferson went with UConn’s.
If the Orange can’t land either Jefferson or Coleman, then Grant might very well be the only incoming freshman in this class. Syracuse will have plenty of scholarship players next year regardless, but a one-man recruiting class would be disappointing.
Based on how things went at Midnight Madness, even if Boeheim pulls in a subpar class this year, big things should be expected in ’13. Some of the nation’s top recruits were wowed by the star power of Melo, the sounds of Meek Mill, and the excitement of Friday night’s festivities in the Carrier Dome.
Posted: Andrew Kanell