Summer is upon us, which sadly means the offseason for Syracuse basketball and football is upon us too. While we’ve got some downtime, let’s have some fun. Let’s play the “What If” game. Orange Fizz will be breaking down some of the biggest “What If” questions and moments in Syracuse athletics over the next coming months. The series starts today with an infamous recruit non-commitment.
What if Quade Green Picked Syracuse?
Remember the Quade Green decision? You probably tried to forget about it. The 2017 McDonald’s All-American point guard was linked to Syracuse for what felt like an eternity. Gerry McNamara followed him around like Green was his child. The Syracuse community and the nation, for that matter, all believed Green to Syracuse was the plan from the beginning. That was until, John Calipari swooped in late and Kentucky snagged him.
That decisions turned out to backfire on Green. After a pedestrian year and a half at Kentucky, the guy who many viewed as a “one-and-done” prospect decided to transfer. For a little while, there was talks of Green to Syracuse again, but he decided to follow one of the guys who recruited him to come to the Orange in 2017, current Washington head coach Mike Hopkins.
Green will have to sit out the first semester of the 2019-20 season and will be eligible to join the defending Pac-12 Tourney champs in January of 2020, according to NCAA rules. Missing out on star guards was the tale of the 2017 cycle for Syracuse. Lonnie Walker (Miami), Tremont Waters (LSU), Brandon Randolph (Arizona), Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky) and the final heartbreaker, Jordan Tucker (Duke), were all linked to SU during that period. It’s wild thinking this below was written in an article on this very site back in 2017.
“Either Walker or Green would provide a foundational piece for the late-2010s Orange, and both appear to be seriously considering SU. It’s OK for Syracuse fans to dream about a 2017 backcourt trio of Walker, Green, and Jordan Tucker.”
Instead of that dream, the Orange struck out on ESPN 100 guys that year (partially because of recruiting/scholarship violations). They did land a bargain in Oshae Brissett. The rest of the class though–Marek Dolezaj, Bourama Sidibe and Howard Washington–while they still have time to leave a mark, are likely not going to be stars.
So what would’ve happened if Green picked Syracuse like many thought? How different would things be?
If Green picked Syracuse other roster moves would’ve been impacted, no doubt. Now this is all pure speculation but that’s the fun of these “What If” questions. Here’s my guess at what the roster would’ve looked like if Green went with the other team in late November of 2016.
What’s the key to getting a high-level recruit? Getting the first one so they can convince the rest. You could make the case that Jordan Tucker would’ve followed suit with Green adding more intrigue for Syracuse and maybe pushed him over the edge. It would’ve gotten them another big name as a trickle-down effect. Whether it would’ve been Tucker is hard to say, but he appeared to be the closest to coming to Syracuse in the first place, so let’s say it would’ve been him.
You might have noticed two players from that 17-18 team are missing: Geno Thorpe and Howard Washington. Washington committed in March, five months after Green. Therefore, the Orange probably don’t look into him as much and a more crowded backcourt also would’ve deterred him more. As for the short-lived Geno Thorpe experiment, Syracuse probably doesn’t even dip into the grad-transfer market that year with Green in hand.
Green would’ve started. Just based on his ratings alone and he told several recruiting experts Syracuse’s main selling point to him was he would be the “man.” So that moves Matthew Moyer to the bench. It would’ve been an odd three-guard starting lineup but compared to the low expectations that the 17-18 team had, this would have drastically changed the hype leading up to that season.
Now, let’s not forget, that team did overachieve and make it to the Sweet Sixteen. So who knows if Green would’ve made a big enough difference for them to get by a Duke and go even further, but honestly probably not.
One thing’s for sure: It would’ve changed Green’s life a ton. He would probably be doing pro workouts right now gearing up to get taken in the NBA draft in a couple weeks and not getting ready for a season on the other side of the country in the Pac-12. Honestly, Green might’ve gone one-and-done and already be done with his rookie season in the NBA.
If he would’ve stayed for year two, though, SU would’ve been bringing everyone back from the roster above, well expect for Matt Moyer (assuming he still would have transferred). Regardless, that’s three scoring guards in the back-court paired with a strong defensive front court. Green and the hypothetical domino of Tucker would’ve probably cut into Brissett’s numbers a little bit and changed the complexion of his career offensively, as well.
It’s wild to think how different things would be if an 18 year old kid was getting different advice or seeing things slightly differently that day. The more you break this down though, the nature of SU’s tournament results and overall ceiling of the team, probably wouldn’t have changed all that much. Sweet 16 still would have been solid with or without Green.
In the end, the thing that really would be different is Quade Green’s life today. I guess that’s why they call college a life-altering decision.