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Countdown to Tipoff: Inside Look at SU Hoops Elite Camp & Season Preview

Syracuse hosted their annual late August elite camp on two weeks ago, and grabbed a number of impressive players to participate.

With SU commit Tyler Ennis and his father looking on, 2014 Lincoln (NY) guard Isaiah Whitehead emerged as the top prospect at the camp due to his dominant play on the court. Whitehead, who has a Syracuse offer, utilized his jumper which was not always present during the summer.

2014 forward Chris McCullough, a 6-foot-9 talent who will play on the wing this year, showed off his skills at the camp. His cousin attends Syracuse, and he has a number of connections to the school. McCullough will be attending C.J. Fair’s alma mater, Brewster Academy (NH), for his junior year. Could this play any impact on his recruitment?

2013 small forward B.J. Johnson fits the mold of a Syracuse small forward being a long, athletic, skinny prospect at 6-foot-7. Johnson, who is the most notable player to come out of Lower Merion (PA) since Kobe Bryant, is very close to adding an offer from the Orange as he impressed the staff. Johnson is in the process of setting up an official visit to Syracuse for the fall.

Among the other notable names in attendance were Tyus Battle, Kerem Kanter, Jared Nickens, Chinonso Obokoh and Thomas Bryant.

Speaking of Battle, he is yet to play a high school game, but now has five scholarship offers, including Syracuse.

Jim Boeheim may be an old school head coach, but he is setting his focus on younger player in order to keep up with the current state and trend of recruiting.

  • Get more insight from SU’s elite camp with Kline Saturday 9a-10a morning on Fizz Radio

The current future of the current Syracuse roster is looking bright, as well. Michael Gbinije, a Duke transfer who will sit out the upcoming season, and current freshman Jerami Grant, are going to be bright spots.

Gbinije, a Jordan Brand All-American out of Benedictine (VA), didn’t play much during his freshman campaign and transferred to Syracuse in the spring. A 6-foot-7 wing with the ability to create for teammates, slash, shoot and handle the ball, the transfer will make an impact once he hits the court in 2013-14.

As for Grant – who was also a Jordan Brand All-American coming out of high school – the freshman from DeMatha Catholic (MD) has grown significantly since he was last seen on the court. His versatility and wingspan is tremendous. While he is not a big man, Grant’s length will be coveted dearly in the 2-3 zone.

This years team isn’t guard heavy, but they’ll be aided by the help of Ennis in ’13-’14. The point guard is the definition of the position as he distributes the ball and runs the offense to his tempo, which can be slow or fast paced. Ennis can score, too, and plays similar to most Syracuse guards as he can also shoot the outside range shot fairly consistently.

I caught the team playing pickup at the Melo Center and came away impressed despite losing a few of their key players in Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph.

Look for Rakeem Christmas as one of the key players for this year’s team. Rak is a completely different player as he seemed much more confident on the court with a better feel for the game. He was aggressive going to the rim and has much better footwork and post moves. With a strong year from the sophomore, Syracuse’s frontcourt could be strong despite the loss of Melo.

While the Orange are looking for a major scorer to replace Dion Waiters and company from last year, look for another sophomore to get some big minutes in Trevor Cooney. The shooter from Delaware will have an important role this year and showed that he can create his own shot, which will be important for this team. While his three-ball and jumper wasn’t as consistent as usual, it’s only the fall. If he gets hot, look for Cooney to contribute some instant offense for Syracuse.

Another player who will make a major impact on offense this year is senior Brandon Triche. The Dewitt native scored at will in a variety of ways and distributed the rock. Whether or not he will be the primary ball handler is up for debate, but of all the Syracuse guards, he looks like the most ready to make an impact on the court from day one. Look for Triche to come up big in his final season in Orange.

Triche will be reunited with his former teammate at Jamesville-Dewitt in DaJuan Coleman. DC 2.0 is down to 275 pounds and is looking like a complete beast in and around the post as he attacked the basket with spin moves and force. While he may not be a one-and-done type player, Coleman’s impact as a freshman big will be appreciated by the Dome faithful.

This Syracuse team may not be as talented as last year’s bunch, but it has a lot of depth and options as C.J. Fair, Michael Carter-Williams, Baye Keita, James Southerland and others will contribute. While it likely won’t be a top-5 team like last year, the Orange will be a top-20 to top-25 team in a wide-open Big East Conference this year.

Posted: Alex Kline

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Alex Kline is a veteran of the high school basketball recruiting scene, and one of the most recognized insiders on the beat. We welcome him to The Fizz staff and he’ll be regularly writing about college hoops, and appearing on Fizz Radio. He’ll join Fizz Radio Saturday, 9a-10a.

Kline has been covering college basketball recruiting since the age of 14 and owns The Recruit Scoop, which recently merged with Yahoo Sports partner Rivals.com. 

Alex also runs a high school basketball charity all-star event, the Mary Kline Classic, in honor of his mother, with the goal of raising money and awareness for cancer research. In the first two years, the event has raised $28,000 for cancer research.

With the success of the website and event, he has been featured in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Wall Street Journal, ABC World News Now, The Today Show. The Mary Kline Classic has received attention from these media outlets, along with Yahoo Sports, ESPN, CBS, Fox Sports and many more.

He hails from Pennington, New Jersey.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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