Should top recruit Nerlens Noel choose Syracuse on Wednesday, what would the Orange lineup look like when it took the floor next season? It may seem unlikely considering Kentucky’s recruiting resume now has a freshly minted National Championship. The one and done assembly line to the NBA John Calipari has created appears to give the Wildcats the lead in this race. Georgetown is also gaining steam according to some college hoops reports, so SU is in the middle of a dogfight.
But gaze into the distance and imagine next fall if N2 is sporting the Orange. For starters, SU would likely be the preseason #1 team in the country. The combination of returning talent and the potential “Transformers Frontcourt” would make SU scary good. Noel could be the final piece as a game-changing prospect, much the same way Anthony Davis impacted UK.
The backcourt would feature sophomore Michael Carter-Williams (who showed flashes of brilliance) and senior Brandon Triche as the starters. Off the bench would be redshirt freshman Trevor Cooney, who could be that knockdown shooter the Orange have lacked.
The frontcourt is where SU would be potentially dominant. Jim Boeheim could throw out a front line of C.J. Fair, McDonald’s All-American DaJuan Coleman, and Nerlens Noel. Need more size? How about Rakeem Christmas, who played extremely well in the NCAA Tournament. Need more shooting touch to draw the defense outside? The Per’fesser can put in James Southerland and his perimeter game. That’s immediately one of the best (if not the best) frontcourt in America. Don’t forget about incoming recruit Jerami Grant, and Baye Keita who played his guts out against Ohio State. That depth would be unmatched in all of college basketball.
DC 2.0 has already shown a knack for rebounding at a high level, and adding Nerlens would make this squad dominant on the glass. Defensively, Syracuse would once again be suffocating. This season was one of Boeheim’s best defenses ever. MCW and Triche should be solid at the top of the zone, and the waves of big bodies coming from underneath would be frightening. Coleman, Noel, Rak, Fair, Southerland, and Keita under the basket would intimidate every team with their length and wealth of shotblockers. Imagine how many turnovers would be created, allowing SU its transition offense.
On the offensive end, the Orange could struggle at times without a go-to scorer. Losing Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters will be large voids to fill. But with this size and talent there’s going to be enough points scored on most nights. Triche will certainly have to step up, while Southerland and Fair will have to be more consistent. Noel has shown the ability not only to finish around the rim explosively, but also hit a mid-range jumper making him an immediate threat.
Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisville, Michigan, and Baylor should all be very good teams next season. But a Syracuse squad with Noel would likely be better than all of them. It’s never going to be a waltz into the Final Four, but it’s hard to imagine this potential SU team losing too many games.
So while the Orange probably have only an outside chance of landing N2, that can’t stop us from dreaming. Adding Noel to this already deep team would make SU the team to beat.
Posted: Alex Plavin