A big week for Syracuse hoops as Duke forward Michael Gbinije announces he will join SU after transferring from Duke, and Isaiah Whitehead – one of the top basketball recruits in New York City (a top 20 guard nationally) – says Syracuse is at the top of his list.
Gbinije was caught in a numbers game with the Blue Devils, and joins a front court that already has incredible depth. While MG may not finalize a Transformers Lineup like Nerlens Noel would have, he does add a 6’7″ body that averaged 25/10/5 his senior season. He was lauded for his unselfish play and fundamentally sound game coming out of high school. Meantime, Whitehead is just a sophomore, and has other offers such as Georgetown, UConn, Arizona, Iowa State, Pittsburgh, St. John’s, Rutgers and Florida State.
The New York Post ticks off the reasons SU seems like a great fit for the NYC guard.
“It was one of the first schools to offer him last summer, his favorite player is Orange alum Carmelo Anthony, he would like to play in the Carrier Dome one day, has developed a bond with the coaching staff and likes the program’s frenzied fan base.”
But Whitehead’s in no rush to make a decision.
“Right now they are just the best school for me. You never know who might come around or how the program might change in two years.”
Whitehead said he will begin to evaluate his choices at the end of the summer, and look at who has watched the most, and where he might fit in the best. This will already be a year of transition for SU’s backcourt. Dion Waiters is on his way to the NBA, and Scoop Jardine awaits his walk down the aisle. Michael Carter-Williams will get plenty of minutes this season, and Trevor Cooney is expected to contribute. But Brandon Triche will be a senior as well. It only makes sense for SU to continue looking at guard options for down the road.
Orange Nation has fretted over Whitehead (Lincoln High School) before. In November, Whitehead’s mother, Erika Rambert, said Syracuse was off his list because of the explosive Bernie Fine allegations. But his coach Dwayne Morton cleared up that issue, as Rambert mistakenly thought Fine was the head coach instead of an assistant.
Here’s three reasons why Syracuse has a solid shot at landing I-Dub:
- Playing time is available
There should be be plenty of minutes in the backcourt for when Whitehead would eventually land on campus. He’s Class of ’14, meaning MCW would be a senior by the time he reaches campus, while Cooney would be a junior. While the front court has incredible depth, the guard rotation is not as deep. It’s hard to project college rosters two seasons into the future, but Whitehead would likely be a major piece of the puzzle. This week The Fizz discussed Boeheim’s recent visit to scout guard Tyler Ennis, enabled by new NCAA rules. Whitehead projects as a two-guard in college. Imagine that backcourt combination at the Dome. Dajuan Coleman and Jerami Grant would be juniors, as would Gbinije – who finished his freshman season and will sit out this year.
- IW’s size and grit fits the Orange system
The 6’4″ guard provides exactly the type of length Boeheim loves. Triche stands at the same height, with a wide frame that explains his 205 lbs. SU has always targeted bigger guards, guys that stretch the floor on the offensive end, as well as get to the basket and take advantage of their size. Whitehead has those intangibles. The size and grit he possesses fits seamlessly into the 2-3 zone defense, keeping the paint closed, and leading to defensive havoc.
- SU’s a program that keeps on growing
Whitehead has said he wants to make sure his school has sustaining success, since he’s just a high school sophomore. With DC 2.0, Grant, Gbinije, MCW, Cooney, and Rakeem Christmas potentially still on campus, Syracuse should be one of those schools.
“I want a program that will be good down the road, not just good right now, because I won’t be in college next year.”
Whitehead has SU as his top school right now, and there’s plenty of reasons to believe he should keep it there. His ability and position should lead to time on the floor in Boeheim’s system. His tenacity fits the Orange style of gritty play, and he’ll be joining a talented group that will still be successful two years down the road.
Posted: Brendon Glasheen