Try this name on for size: Cheickna Dembele. Now get used to it, because you might be hearing the name Demebele for the next four years.
Late last week, Jim Boeheim and his staff visited Dembele at his home and the big man came away with an offer from Syracuse. At 6-foot-11 and 234 pounds, there’s no doubt that Boeheim is searching for a center to replace Chinoso Obokoh on the depth chart, who announced that he would transfer from the program. With Obokoh transferring, SU now has three scholarship spots to fill entering next season. SU has already contacted graduate transfer Grant Mullins and is the predicted favorite to land recruit Taurean Thompson, who plans to announce his college decision sometime in the Spring.
Dembele, a native of Mali, already has offers from NC State, Missori, Providence, and even Iowa State. While he is just a three-star recruit, Dembele is pretty new to the game of basketball, leaving unlimited potential to grow and develop. He currently attends Scotland Performance Institute in Pennsylvania, where he averaged 16 points per game and 11 rebounds per game. Most impressively, however, Dembele averaged 4.5 blocks per game, meaning he could give the Orange a true rim protector behind Paschal Chukwu off of the bench. The Orange struggled to block shots this season, aside from Tyler Lydon’s impressive NCAA Tournament, and was never able to replicate the interior defensive presence of Rakeem Christmas two seasons ago. A combination of Chukwu and Dembele would be more than enough size and length to fill that void.
While bolstering the frontcourt is a good depth move, after all of the foul trouble SU endured early this season, Boeheim and the coaching staff still needs to focus on guard play. If Malachi Richardson leaves the program and enters the NBA Draft, the Orange will be looking a guard rotation of Franklin Howard and Tyus Battle, without much help. Securing a commitment from Mullins would definitely help.
Be sure to follow the Fizz on Twitter @OrangeFizz for all SU Basketball recruiting news. Follow Dembele’s recruitment through decision day and the fallout that is sure to come.