Syracuse is chasing several blue-chip backcourt recruits in the Class of 2017, but one of those promising players is taking his talents to the opposite side of the country. Brandon Randolph, a four-star shooting guard, committed to Arizona on Wednesday, choosing the Wildcats over the Orange, Wake Forest, and Oregon.
“It was a great atmosphere [at Arizona] with great academics and I guess it was just the best fit,” Randolph told Scout.com’s Evan Daniels. “It had everything we were looking for.”
Randolph, who hails from Yonkers, NY, and plays high school basketball in Westtown, PA, also cited his close personal relationship with Wildcats head coach Sean Miller as a factor in his decision.
“What I like about [Miller] is he basically reached out to me a lot,” Randolph said. “Not just the assistant — a couple of schools, I thought it was just the assistant coaches interested. I just felt me having a relationship with the head coach is a lot better.”
That sounds like a big differentiator between Syracuse and Arizona, because Jim Boeheim typically allows his assistants — Mike Hopkins and Gerry McNamara, in particular — to handle most of the recruiting duties. That’s not to say that the legendary boss is completely detached from the process (he’s not), but other head coaches might be more involved.
Randolph’s biggest strength is his long-range marksmanship: the 40th-ranked player in ESPN’s Class of 2017 rankings drilled nearly 38 of his attempts from beyond the arc during the Nike Elite Youth Basketball season. At 6-foot-6 with impressive quickness, Randolph has the potential to develop into a lockdown defender, especially if he adds some muscle to his 180-pound frame.
Randolph’s decision means the Orange is still searching for its first 2017 commit. Boston College is the only other ACC school that hasn’t secured a recruit in the class (that’s not great company), but Syracuse is closing in on signatures from a few high-profile high schoolers.
The guy right above Randolph in ESPN’s class rankings, Jordan Tucker, narrowed his list to eight teams in late August, but SU is the clear front-runner. The 6-foot-7 small forward is one of the best jump shooters in the class, and would fit nicely as a wing in the Orange’s 2-3 zone.
Lonnie Walker, the No. 19 player in ESPN’s rankings, is visiting each of the schools on the top-five list he revealed in late August, per 247sports. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard’s first official trip was to Miami (FL) in September, and the Pennsylvania native is scheduled to visit Arizona, Kentucky, and Villanova over the next three weeks before traveling to Syracuse for his final campus tour. Walker plans to announce his decision before his senior season begins in early December. At this point, it appears to be a toss-up between the Orange, Arizona, and Villanova.
Even if Boeheim and company can’t lock down a commitment from Walker later this year, it won’t necessarily be time to hit the panic button, because another top-25 player appears likely to pick Syracuse. Quade Green, the No. 3 point guard in ESPN’s Class of 2017 rankings, has visited SU twice over the past five weeks, and is returning to campus for Orange Madness on October 21. In 247sports’ “Crystal Ball” predictions, 74 percent of prognosticators chose Central New York as Green’s probable destination.
Despite losing out on Brandon Randolph (and every other recruit who’s committed for 2017), Boeheim and his staff have compiled a solid group of realistic targets.