Last week, Stockrisers.com and Rivals.com reported that 2022 Syracuse commit Dior Johnson, the class’ top point guard, is considering reclassifying to the Class of 2021. This would make him a 17-year-old freshman.
Johnson, a rising junior at powerhouse prep school Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., is the highest-rated commit for the Orange since Carmelo Anthony in 2002. That title comes with great power.
In this case, he could use his power to shake the current Orange roster. A lot of Syracuse fans are hesitant to push for Johnson to play a year earlier because of rising sophomore point guard Joe Girard, and the rotation conflict that would present. Kadary Richmond is another player that could contribute to the crowded lineup.
Johnson is probably not considering Girard or Richmond. Given his top-15 national ranking, the high school star would likely start either way.
Maybe Johnson wants to play with four-star forward Benny Williams, who committed to the Orange Class of 2021 in part due to Johnson’s pitch. Maybe Johnson is afraid of the potential overflow of shiny freshmen Syracuse can bring in 2022. Four-star guards Roddy Gayle Jr., Chance Westry and JJ Starling are all on SU’s radar, among others. Or maybe Johnson just thinks he is ready to play ACC basketball, and ascend to the NBA as a one-and-done.
But the Saugerties, NY native would be sacrificing the chance to play alongside Zion Cruz, a five-star target who followed Johnson to Oak Hill Academy. It seems safe to assume that Cruz transferred prep schools to play with Johnson, so it would only hurt SU’s chances to land Cruz in 2022 if Johnson isn’t holding his hand.
It is important to recognize the alternatives to Johnson reclassifying. It is possible that the point guard just stays in his original Class of 2022. Then again, Johnson has expressed interest in the NBA’s G-League pitch to high school stars, offering them up to $500,000 to forego college. There is also the grim possibility that Johnson flips his verbal commitment. Hundreds of teams would welcome him with open arms.
That being said, it is unlikely that Johnson plays for any college team besides Syracuse. However, the Orange have to keep him happy because they can’t afford another Darius Bazley situation.
If Johnson wants to reclassify, Jim Boeheim should embrace him a year ahead of schedule, and enjoy the depth that Girard would likely provide off the bench as a senior. If Johnson decides not to reclassify, Syracuse fans can continue praying he builds a rapport with Cruz, and that the Orange become a super-team in due time.