Tom Izzo needs to leave Syracuse alone.
Recently, it seems that every time SU is close to locking up a recruit, Izzo swoops into the picture with an army of Spartans and tries to lure the player to East Lansing. It happened with Taurean Thompson, and now it appears to be happening with Andrew White III.
After a recruiting saga that would make The Bachelor’s producers jealous, Thompson finally chose the Orange a couple weeks ago. Seton Hall was also in the running for the forward’s signature, but that always felt like his mom’s pipe dream (Thompson’s mother reportedly preferred the New Jersey school because it was closer to home). Michigan State’s offer to Thompson, the 75th-best player in ESPN’s 2016 class rankings, came roughly a year after Syracuse began its pursuit of the big man.
Now, the Spartans have entered the race during the final lap for White, as well. The graduate transfer is visiting the MSU campus this weekend, and has spoken with Izzo over the phone “three or four times,” according to MLive.com. The school reportedly requested a copy of his request to transfer from Nebraska, but this trip to southern Michigan will be the 6-foot-6 wing’s first.
“They’re expressing a need for what I do, which is shooting the ball and making plays,” White told MLive.com. “Obviously, there are some guys there who can play, but it takes a team to make a deep run in the tournament and compete for championships. I think that an important part of this is having a staff that can bring me in and make me fit within the team dynamic, so that the chemistry is good and we can win.”
White clearly knows that Michigan State will give him a chance to contend for a national title — the Spartans are always dangerous in March — but this year, SU can offer the same thing.
White would give the Orange some much-needed backcourt depth and some much-needed perimeter shooting. After Thompson’s commitment, Jim Boeheim’s frontcourt is loaded, but the roster currently features only three guards, and none is a proven difference-maker.
Franklin Howard was one of the most inefficient players in the nation as a freshman (28.6 field goal percentage and a 7.8 player efficiency rating); he certainly could — and is expected to — improve this upcoming season, but that’s not guaranteed. Tyus Battle is as close to a “sure thing” as a recruit can be, but he’ll still be a freshman. John Gillon has never played a full season against Power Five competition.
White would provide Syracuse with that certainty in the backcourt. He’d be the ideal replacement for Malachi Richardson, and he might even push the Orange into the top 10. Boeheim just needs to hold off Izzo for the second time this offseason.