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Syracuse’s Transfer Conundrum: Why It May Not Add A Guard

Syracuse lost three scholarship guards to the transfer portal last week and hasn’t added anyone or to anyone’s knowledge expressed interest in a guard in the currently robust transfer portal. Honestly, they might not. 

Here’s the thing. Why did those guards leave? The simple answer: playing time. So, how could the Orange convince a new guard to come when they can’t promise them playing time?

Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard have the starting spots in the backcourt, you’d figure, until they leave Syracuse. For Girard that is three seasons and for Boeheim that is two seasons, most likely. 

Whether you are a grad transfer or an unhappy freshman looking to reset somewhere else, one of the top priorities for picking a new school will always be playing time. 

So take Khalif Battle for example. A freshman who left his former team, Butler, at least partially because of a lack of playing time. Why would he sign up for a bench spot the rest of the way? 

You might say, well they just need someone like Howard Washington. A solid, fundamental back-up point guard. No one flashy. You’re right. That would be ideal for depth reasons. It would be nice to have some insurance, in case Boeheim or Girard went down with injury, considering the only other guard on scholarship right now is Kadary Richmond, a freshman that, like any freshman, presents some unknowns. 

But why would a grad transfer or a transfer who is immediately eligible to play next year commit to playing mostly the bench in their last year of college hoops? Keep in mind, there is a reason Washington transferred. He, like all these other players Syracuse would hypothetically go after, can start somewhere else and have a more enjoyable year somewhere else. 

Remember what happened when grad transfer Geno Thorpe came and got benched? He got up and left the team. You really can’t overvalue playing time. 

So, considering who is out there, what guard is Syracuse going to reel in that has the talent to make an impact on the team, be eligible to play next year, and be content with, most likely, not starting?

Keep in mind, Jalen Carey and Brycen Goodine are two of the top transfer portal players in ESPN’s rankings right now. They left because they felt they weren’t going to crack the starting lineup. 

John Gillon and Andrew White worked out well because they were guaranteed playing time. White filled in perfectly for Malachi Richardson’s vacant spot. And Gillon earned the starting spot by the end of the year and at the very least was going to get some minutes because an incumbent starter wasn’t returning at the point guard spot. Actually, the entire backcourt left. 

In this case, Syracuse has its entire backcourt coming back and staying for a while. That presents a problem. The caliber of player worth recruiting and adding likely will have better options than to come to a school where he may never start, or for that more play more then 10 minutes a game. 

History suggests Jim Boeheim only plays 2 or maybe 3 guys off his bench. Well, Robert Braswell, Woody Newton, John Bol Ajak, Jesse Edwards and Kadary Richmond are already there. So a new recruit would be one of six bench players competing for maybe two, likely max three spots? And their reward would be spelling Girard and Boeheim in the first half for five minutes or so.

It’s not a good situation. It’s a hard sell to a talented player who could easily go somewhere else. 

Maybe they add a freshman late in this cycle at guard. Maybe they find someone who is willing to play a bench role just because they grew up admiring the Syracuse program and would rather go to a prestigious school for the final year of their career. It’s still possible they find the right fit. 

It’s just a hard fit. Based on that, what Boeheim has been saying and the lack of discussions of guards Syracuse is after, I don’t see them adding someone in the backcourt this offseason. 

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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