Last June Jim Boeheim said that Syracuse‚Äôs 2015 class was ‚Äúgetting another‚Äù commit. That player was presumed to be New York center Thomas Bryant who two weeks ago committed to Indiana. Earlier this week the Post Standard published a story saying that Bryant did not come to Syracuse because he saw SU as a program in chaos.
Clearly losing scholarships and players transferring is chaotic, but the narrative that Indiana simply beat out Syracuse in the race for Bryant due to SU‚Äôs sanctions is flat out wrong.
In the two months leading up to Bryant‚Äôs decision the Syracuse coaches did not talk to the coveted commit; they just spoke with his mother. According to Bryant‚Äôs mother IU players regularly checked in with Bryant via txt messages these last sixty days; this did not happen with Syracuse players.
Syracuse did not miss out on Bryant because of the NCAA sanctions. They missed out on him because they didn‚Äôt even try to bring him in these last two months. No talks with coaches. No player outreach. They didn‚Äôt want him.
Back in June they wanted him; in fact they thought they had him. After the NCAA dropped the hammer on the program that was no longer the case.
The sanctions changed everything for Syracuse, not for Bryant. Once the team lost scholarships for the next four years things became out of Boeheim‚Äôs control. He was never going to be around for that long, especially if the team planned to put off the scholarship losses for an additional year in an effort bring in Bryant.
Mike Hopkins is the next head man for SU and Boeheim does not want his guy to be bogged down by penalties that stemmed from his reign. He wants to give Hop a fresh start.
Syracuse is limited to ten players on scholarship for the next four years, down from the usual 13 per season. If Bryant had come and BJ Johnson (a guy who showed he could play for SU down the stretch of last season) had stayed SU would have been at 12 scholarships for next year.
The team would have been better, but Hopkins would have had to deal with two years of lost scholarships losses instead of just one after Boeheim leaves in three years. To the Orange‚Äôs current coach that was unacceptable.
Both Bryant and Johnson could have really helped SU next season. Now they‚Äôre with other programs. Sanctions and a lack of playing time did not drive these guys away. Syracuse wanting to have a smooth transition between head coaches is what did it and that‚Äôs not fair to fans.
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Posted: Connor Morrissette