For the past couple years Syracuse Basketball’s recruiting hasn’t been too good, to put it nicely. The Orange have been swinging and missing on big name recruits and then, mostly, having to settle for low-three stars. But with the verbal commitment of five-star Dior Johnson, the tides have changed. His fame and lure has enticed other big recruits to look at SU as a possible home for the next few years. We released the first half of the scholarship offers earlier this week, but here is a breakdown and evaluation of the second half of potential future Syracuse players in the recruiting class of 2021:
ASHTON SMITH | PF | 3-STARS
SIZE: 6’9, 230 lbs.
HOME TOWN: Aldine, TX – Legacy School of Sports Science
OTHER OFFERS: Houston, McNeese State, Mississippi State, North Texas, Oral Roberts, Seton Hall
EVALUATION: There’s not much out there on Smith right now. He’s not in the national rankings at the moment, even though that could change. Plus, his online recruiting profiles are barebones. From the limited film that can be found on him, though, he looks like a freak athlete. A strong, strong dude that can jump out of the building and loves playing above the rim. He’s fast and has great body control. Smith can run the floor with the guards which could lead to an exciting game if you pair him with Dior. He doesn’t really shoot from the outside much, but prefers to live under the rim, cleaning up the boards and catching lobs from teammates. He rebounds well and can protect the rim on defense. Smith is an athletic freak that would fit extremely well on the wing of the two-three zone. He is strong enough to deal with big men on the inside and athletic enough to block out shooters and get to the corners, which we all know is what Jim Boeheim wants out of his wing defenders. It’s a little surprising he doesn’t have more interest from other schools. Syracuse is currently Smith’s biggest possible suitor. The Orange are finding an unknown diamond in the rough with Smith.
ELIJAH HUTCHINS-EVERETT | C | 3-STARS
SIZE: 6’10, 225 lbs.
HOME TOWN: Orange, NJ – Putnam Science Academy
OTHER OFFERS: DePaul, Iona, Miami, Minnesota, Penn State, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Villanova
EVALUATION: Hutchins-Everett is ranked the second best player in New Jersey and the 25th best center in the country for the class of 2021. He was originally supposed to be in the class of 2020, but reclassified to extend his recruitment process. At 6’10 and with the frame he has, he would be a solid presence in the middle of the zone. Hutchins-Everett does most of his work at the high post and cuts to the basket when there are openings. He can finish amongst traffic and battle through contact. One knock, however, is most of his scoring opportunities are there because his teammates find him on the inside. Yes, he finishes strong, but he doesn’t create his own shot that much. There is little evidence on his shooting ability, so it is difficult to grade that, but that makes you believe he doesn’t shoot jumpers too much. Hutchins-Everett would be a good defensive presence for Syracuse and could be a big body to set screens on offense if he picks the Orange. He has a lot of up-side.
FRANCK KEPNANG | C | 4-STARS
SIZE: 6’11, 247 lbs.
HOME TOWN: Norristown, PA – Westtown School
OTHER OFFERS: Auburn, Connecticut, DePaul, Fordham, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Miami, Ohio State, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Saint Louis, St. John’s, Stanford, Texas A&M, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Washington
EVALUATION: Talk about a true big man! Syracuse has been missing a strong center for a while now, and Kepnang is exactly that. He isn’t Bourama Sidibe or Paschal Chukwu who are stick skinny. Kepnang is tall, has great length, and has some muscle on him. He is the third best player in Pennsylvania and is ranked 37th overall in the country. Kepnang plays with a lot of energy and hustles on pretty much every play. He throws down mean jams and can swat a shot to the top row of the bleachers. Kepnang also is an aggressive rebounder on both ends of the court. Sounds perfect, right? Well there are two issues. One is that he is pretty limited offensively. He can dunk, but that is kind of it. Hopefully in his senior year he will show some more versatility. The other issue is the amount of schools that are interested in him. Just take a look above at the long list of schools that have offered him a scholarship. He deserves all of those offers because he is an NBA-level prospect, but that long list makes it difficult to land Kepnang. If Syracuse could get him, it would be program altering.
MICAWBER ETIENNE | C | 4-STARS
SIZE: 6’10, 220 lbs.
HOME TOWN: Wolfeboro, NH – Brewster Academy
OTHER OFFERS: Arizona State, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisville, Massachusetts, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John’s, UCLA, VCU, Xavier
EVALUATION: Etienne’s the tenth best center in his class and 53rd player overall in the country. He’s a very interesting recruit because of his athleticism. He could very well play the center position in college, but he could also just as easily be a stretch forward. Etienne isn’t your prototypical, back-to-the-basket big man. He likes to catch a few dribbles away from the basket and make his own opportunities. That being said, he can also do work on the inside and cleans up the glass nicely. Etienne is a high motor player and is in constant motion. He moves well off the ball and has the instincts to find the openings in the defense. If he picks Syracuse, he could play the wing or the middle of the zone, kind of like Marek Dolezaj, but just much stronger. If I was Syracuse, I would push all the chips in and bring a full-on blitz (boom! two sports references at once) to get Etienne. He would pair well with the athleticism of Dior and Benny.