Syracuse fans experienced heartbreak after Malachi Richardson’s premature departure to this year’s NBA Draft. ESPN ranked the 6’6 freshman as a top 25 player in college basketball heading into next season, which left the Orange faithful thinking about what could have been had Richardson stayed in Central New York for at least another year. All this begs the question, which SU players could make the leap to the pros before their college tenure expires? Unfortunately for the Orange, there are some worthy candidates.
There were rumblings early in the season that the forward could be a potential one-and-done after NBA teams reportedly inquired about Lydon with his high school coach. Those talks gradually slowed down as the season progressed. Despite newly implemented rules that allow players to return to college after declaring for the draft, Lydon allowed Syracuse fans to rest a little easier at night after he announced immediately following the team’s loss to North Carolina in the Final Four that he would return to school. How long Lydon stays in the orange and white has yet to be determined. A strong sophomore campaign would likely end the 6’8 big man’s time in the college realm. In the NBA’s transition towards smaller lineups, Lydon’s size coupled with his ability to stretch the floor would make him a valuable commodity in the modern game.
Battle is an intriguing prospect who will find himself at the pro level at some point. However, his draft stock hinges on his production this season. He is similar to Richardson in that he fits the mold of an NBA player, but possesses a lot of raw talent. If Battle can show promise on the offensive end, he will turn a lot of scout’s heads as a coveted two-way shooting guard. The New Jersey product could certainly test the draft waters after his freshman year, and if he receives the same feedback as his fellow Garden State native, Battle’s time on the Hill could be short-lived.