Kaleb Joseph’s transfer along with the NCAA’s decision to gift the Orange a scholarship back each year puts Jim Boeheim’s rotation into question for next year. Now with just nine players under scholarship, SU has an opportunity to bolster its youth and its veteran leadership entering the 2016-2017 season.
It can bolster its veteran leadership by adding Grant Mullins, a fifth-year transfer out of Columbia. Mullins is leaving Columbia because Ivy League schools do not allow a fifth year of eligibility, unlike the rest of the country. Syracuse, on the other hand, could really use a player like Mullins in the rotation because there will be very little guard depth in the rotation next season. With Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney graduating and Joseph on the way out, that leaves just Franklin Howard, Malachi Richardson (for the time being) and incoming top recruit Tyus Battle as the only guards on the roster.
Without Gbinije and Cooney, SU will need to find three-point offense elsewhere, and Mullins is just that. Over three years at Columbia, he’s knocked down 147 threes on 44 percent shooting – not bad at all. He averaged 13.3 points per game and shot 83 percent from the free throw line. Seemingly everything that Mullins does well fills a need for the Orange rotation next year. He has also been contacted by Michigan, California, and Hawaii. SU’s unexpected Final Four run may have put the Orange as the top suitor, as well as its proximity to his old school.
While Mullins can bolster the backcourt, 2016 recruit Taurean Thompson can provide SU with some much needed youth after losing two seniors and potentially more underclassmen to the draft. Last time we checked in with Thompson in late February, his list was trimmed to four schools: Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, and the Orange. Looking at those four schools, Syracuse has to seem like the favorite based solely on program size and success. SU was the only school of the four to make it past the first weekend, while Providence was the only other school to win its first round matchup. He recently picked up an offer from Arizona.
Thompson has been set to make his decision in the Spring for months now, and as his decision day approaches, the 6-foot-9 big man could be the difference in Syracuse’s chase for another title. With such a deep frontcourt, however, Thompson certainly will not see as much playing time in Orange as he would at the other schools. Will he sacrifice success for early playing time? Only once he makes his college decision will we know.
Out of Brewster Academy, SU is the clear favorite to land Thompson, according to 247sports. If he chooses SU, the Orange could potentially be looking at a frontcourt of: Thompson, Tyler Lydon, Dajuan Coleman, Tyler Roberson, Paschal Chukwu, Chinoso Obokoh, and incoming Matthew Moyer. That’s more than enough talent to make another deep run.
Be sure to follow the Fizz on Twitter @Orangefizz for updates on SU basketball recruiting, especially with Thompson’s decision day fast-approaching. Do you think the Orange will get a commitment from Thompson, Mullins, or both? Which does the team need more?