If you’ve ever received a bad grade or negative review on an assignment or project, you know how Syracuse basketball feels right now. The Orange’s performance in the current recruiting cycle has been less-than-impressive: SU’s Class of 2017 checks in at 58th in 247sports.com’s team rankings, behind blue-bloods like Oregon State, TCU, and Saint Louis.
Considering the stature of his program and the expectations that come with it, Jim Boeheim and company get no better than a D for the batch of commitments they’ve locked down to this point. That could certainly improve with one extra, last-minute ingredient (Jordan Tucker, we’re still here), but at the moment, the results are disappointing. The best way to rebound from a bad grade? Knock the next thing out of the park, so the stellar score compensates for the ugly one.
Syracuse could be well on its way to doing just that, and Jeenathan Williams could be the first piece of the puzzle. The four-star forward, who currently holds 13 scholarship offers, recently told Rivals.com that five schools are “talking to him more than other programs.” SU is one of them, along with Marquette, Providence, Georgia Tech, and Rhode Island. It sounds like those first two teams are pacing the field.
“I plan on visiting Syracuse and Marquette, for sure,” Williams said. “That is all I have in mind for now. I want to visit there this summer and take my official visits early.”
While Williams told Rivals that Marquette has made him its top 2018 target (“I probably talk to them every day”), the Rochester, N.Y., native described SU as “a dream school for me.”
“I like [Syracuse] a lot,” Williams said. “Everybody tells me I fit their playing style but I am just playing basketball and seeing what I can get out of it.”
Rivals pegs Williams as the 108th-best player in the Class of 2018, while 247sports slots him at no. 145. He’s not a class headliner — the thing the 2017 group is missing — but an early commitment from a four-star stud can lay the foundation for a prosperous cycle. And it is still early: as of this writing, only nine of 247sports’ top 100 2018 players have pledged allegiance to a school.
Even though Williams doesn’t crack that top 100, he can step on campus and immediately contribute in his first college season. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound forward is defined by his versatility on both ends of the floor — he can bang for buckets down low, his lefty jumper extends out to the perimeter, and he’d be able to play at the top or on the wing in the Orange’s 2-3 zone.
Williams would be a tremendous building block for Syracuse’s Class of 2018. The earlier Boeheim’s staff can lock him down, the better.