Another big name in the college basketball recruiting game made his decision Thursday night and to nobody’s surprise, Duke added another five-star commit to their ranks. Marvin Bagley III, a five-star forward out of Arizona and the consensus number one high schooler in the country, took to ESPN to announce that he will play his college ball at Duke and that he is taking steps to graduate high school early and play for the Blue Devils this fall.
The following should be prefaced with the fact that the Orange were never in for Bagley.
Now for the point of the article. When Syracuse joined the ACC, some said that this move would not only bring in more money to the program, but also make them a more attractive school for recruits coming out of high school in both football and basktball. Everything about that statement is true. Since Syracuse joined the ACC, the conference announced a mega-deal with ESPN for its own network and both programs have been thrust even further into the national spotlight. However, just because Syracuse is in the ACC doesn’t mean that Syracuse can, or will ever be able to compete with some of the schools in the ACC when it comes to recruiting. And that is just fine.
Syracuse has never, and may never, be a school that a player like Bagley would feel that he has to consider. A certain caliber player, like Bagley, almost always begins his list with the likes of Duke and North Carolina, and seldom the likes of the Orange. Syracuse fans should not panic when they read headlines about top players choosing to go to Durham. This is nothing new and was never something that was going to stop just because an historic program like Syracuse joined the conference that they have been bossing for decades.
The only difference is now Syracuse has to compete with Duke in the standings. However, the Orange also reap the rewards of being associated with the likes of Duke and UNC (whether fairly or unfairly). Syracuse does not make the tournament, and therefore the Final Four, if they were playing in the Big East two seasons ago. Playing in the ACC put them on the right side of the bubble.
However, what Syracuse does need to do to remain relevant in the ACC and continue to reap the rewards of the biggest conference in the land, is out-recruit against the schools that are at or below their level of prestige. Syracuse should not and cannot afford to find itself behind the likes of Virginia Tech and Wake Forest in the recruiting rankings. Both schools have had success in the past, but those are the type of schools that the Orange need to ahead of in the rankings if they want to continue to border on being a national powerhouse, or, at the very least, a consistent presence in the NCAA Tournament. In short, Syracuse fans shouldn’t get too caught up in what Duke or UNC are doing. For the foreseeable future, there will be a clear winner in those recruiting battles.