A couple hours ago, a highly-touted recruit spurned Syracuse and verbally committed to play basketball for a blue blood after being pursued by Jim Boeheim’s staff for years (literally). No, we’re not just reposting an article about Quade Green — it actually happened again.
At 12:01 on Saturday afternoon, Jordan Tucker broke the collective heart of Orange Nation with a tweet declaring his commitment to Duke.
Tucker landed on SU’s radar at least three years ago, and we’ve been following his recruitment ever since. At different points during the process, it felt like the Orange sat at the top of his list — including last month, when his visit to campus reportedly went well.
In early April, we didn’t even know Duke was chasing the four-star swingman. But when Kevin Knox, the No. 10 player in 247sports.com’s 2017 rankings, rejected the Blue Devils in favor of Kentucky last week, Coach K needed someone to replace him in the class. So Duke locked in on Tucker, and a few days of pursuit from Krzyzewski and company was enough to outweigh a few years of pursuit from Boeheim’s contingency.
(By the way, Duke, you would have been A-OK without him.)
Tucker, who checks in at No. 40 in 247sports’ rankings, would have immediately stepped in as the headliner of the Orange’s class. At the moment, Syracuse doesn’t crack the top-50 in any site’s rankings, leaving the team in unfamiliar territory. SU was in a similar position at this point last year, but the class got an enormous boost from Taurean Thompson (the last player in ESPN’s top-100 to choose a school) and graduate transfers Andrew White III and John Gillon late in the process.
Could that happen again? Maybe, but it’s not likely. Plus, that’s not the ideal way to build a team — Thompson, who committed in July, missed out on months of preparation, and it showed when he looked like a deer in the headlights trying to play the 2-3 zone. Fortunately, he’ll be back next year, but White and Gillon won’t. Relying on grad transfers as heavily as the Orange did in 2016-17 is a dangerous habit, because you can’t build a program around them.
It’s incredibly frustrating to watch Syracuse get so close and come up empty again, especially when you consider how barren the Orange’s cupboard looks for the upcoming season. A team in desperate need of a blue-chipper just missed out on another one.