Earlier this week, I explored some potential grad transfers for Syracuse. But at the beginning of this week, Matthew Moyer, Darius Bazley and Braedon Bayer were still in line to be on the Orange’s roster for 2018. The whirlwind of a week for Syracuse basketball has drastically changed SU’s needs for next season. It seemed like there would be a logjam at forward heading into the year. Now, there are only two on the roster.
It certainly is not out of the question that Syracuse could target an under the radar recruit, but most of the remnants of the nation’s top 300 players are smaller guards that don’t suit the Orange’s needs. With the recruiting market mostly dry at this point, the grad transfer route is seeming like the most plausible one for the Orange to replenish its losses.
Like I did earlier this week, let’s assume Tyus Battle is entering the draft. That would leave Syracuse with four guards, two forwards and two centers heading into the season. It’s also worth noting that there are plenty of players that could enter the market as the offseason develops. These are just the ones that have confirmed they are transferring.
Ryan Luther, Forward, Pitt
I highlighted Luther last time, but considered him an afterthought because of the depth the Orange would have and his likely desire to start at whatever team he went to. But now, the former Panther should be the focal point of SU’s grad transfer efforts. Luther was one of the Pitt’s best players before a foot injury ended his season. Before his injury, Luther was averaging a double-double. Luther plays like a guard, but at 6-foot-9, he can put his back to the basket and flash some post moves. He might be the most talented forward on the market and has played against ACC competition. He might remind Orange fans of Tyler Lydon in his playing style. While he does not have the same level of talent as Lydon, he could play a role similar to the former Orange forward when he was a freshman during the Final Four run.
Michael Finke, Forward, Illinois
Finke was someone I wanted to include the last time, but thought Luther made much more sense at a position that was crowded at the time. But Finke is a similar case to Luther. He’s a big stretch four who not only has experience at the Power Five level, but has been a starter. Finke is also big enough that he could anchor the middle if Paschal Chukwu and Bourama SIdibe struggle with fouls or health throughout the season.
Ikenna Smart, Forward, Buffalo
Smart is also a big power forward who was a part of a very good Buffalo team this season that upset Arizona and gave Kentucky a run for its money in the NCAA Tournament. He’s a physical 6-foot-10 body who has a much bigger build than the previous two guys. Smart would be a nice change of pace from the thinner, leaner bodies in the Orange’s frontcourt. He would by no means start on this team, but depth is certainly something that Syracuse could use, especially at the forward position.