For Syracuse basketball, the upcoming season has “struggle” written all over it — especially after Taurean Thompson’s departure left the 2017-18 Orange with just one returning player who averaged at least five points per game last season. But while the present outlook appears bleak, the future grows brighter by the day.
Louis King, a blue-chip small forward in the Class of 2018, revealed his top eight schools Tuesday, and SU made the cut.
The announcement comes on the heels of Darius Bazley’s meteoric rise into the top-10 of ESPN’s Class of 2018 rankings. As of now, Bazley is the only 2018 player to commit to Syracuse, but that could change soon. Jalen Carey, a combo guard who checks in at No. 34 in ESPN’s rankings, will visit SU September 8, and Bazley will join him on campus. Later in the month, three-star power forward Nate Roberts will make the trip to Central New York.
If King chooses the Orange, he would challenge Bazley as the team’s most highly-touted 2018 commit. King is a five-star recruit and a consensus top-25 player in the class (No. 21 on ESPN’s board, No. 20 on Scout.com, and No. 14 in 247sports.com’s composite rankings) with at least 20 offers, including from Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Louisville, and Oregon. Kentucky’s absence from King’s top eight is almost as noteworthy as Syracuse’s inclusion.
King’s tantalizing potential is rooted in his versatility. The New Jersey native is listed between 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-8 with a lean frame and wiry strength. He doesn’t possess the raw, quick-twitch, 42-inch vertical-type of athleticism that some of his contemporaries do, but he’s incredibly smooth with the ball in his hands, and can abuse the rim when the opportunity presents itself. In other words, he’s more Paul Pierce than LeBron James.
No one’s going to call King a point-forward, but his ability to handle the rock at his size is extremely impressive. He goes coast-to-coast with ease, weaving through defenders as if they don’t exist, and sometimes drops eye-popping dimes that shouldn’t be possible for a man of his stature. King has also flashed some long-range shooting ability.
King is clearly oozing with defensive potential, too, and he has the length (buzzword!) to be a nightmare in Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. King, somewhat of a tweener by conventional positional standards, would almost certainly man the wing in SU’s scheme.
A commitment from King would give the Orange one of the nation’s most promising duos in the Class of 2018. That’s not a bad way for Boeheim and company to rebound from a disappointing haul in the most recent cycle.