Syracuse got some good news this weekend when Joe Girard included the Orange in his top six schools. But the battle for the guard, who may be a three star recruit in name only, is going to be difficult. SU is up against some great recruiters and coaches in both the ACC and Big Ten. While the Orange has a lot going for them in this sweepstakes, you can’t ignore the competition. Girard’s decision may also come sooner rather than later. He’s a two-sport star as a quarterback in football and has gotten college attention on the gridiron as well. He wants to make his decision before his senior football season starts on September 1st.
The Orange is the hometown pick for Girard. Glens Falls is a little over two and a half hours from Syracuse. In fact, Girard was honored by the New York State Senate for breaking the state’s scoring record as just a junior. While there, a senator told him to pick the Orange.
SU has Gerry McNamara recruiting Girard, and he can give the perfect pitch to the guard: he was also an undersized guard who could shoot the lights out and eventually turned into one of the most beloved Orange players and a national champion.
Guard will be an interesting position for the Orange over the next couple of years. SU is set to graduate Frank Howard next season and will likely lose Tyus Battle to the NBA. There are a couple of players set to fill those voids in Class of 2018 guards Jalen Carey and Buddy Boeheim. Along with that, Brycen Goodine is also set to join the Orange in 2019. Amongst that crop of guards, only Carey is likely to potentially bolt to the pros before 2020. So with that in mind, it may come down to Girard betting on himself to be the best amongst those guards by 2019 and be an immediate competitor for playing time.
Remember all that stuff I wrote about Gerry McNamara? Well it applies to Duke as well. Jon Scheyer is the one doing the heavy lifting for Coach K on the Girard trail. All of those qualities that McNamara had apply to Scheyer, except for the undersized part.
Duke has stolen recruits away from schools that appeared to be favorites in recent memory (see Tucker, Jordan and Williamson, Zion). However, the Blue Devils’ recent one and done model of recruiting makes Girard an interesting case. How will he view this situation? Does he see it as not being able to compete with these McDonald’s All-Americans so he’ll never see the floor? Or does he think he can be the four (or five) year guy who develops into the classic Duke player that’s beloved by the fanbase but despised by the nation and plays more and more as his career progresses? Either way, guard will be a revolving door year-to-year with Coach K’s recent recruiting trends. Even the guys who aren’t going to be lottery picks have proven they’ll dash to the NBA with a second round projection.
The history between John Beilein and the Girard family is something to watch for. Before he was at Michigan, Beilein coached Girard’s father, Joe, at LeMoyne. So the relationship between those two families is already more advanced than any other on Girard’s list.
The Wolverines already have a number of guards on their roster for the foreseeable future, but Girard is a special type because of his shooting ability. Every team can use a guy like Girard on their roster, especially come March. He’s the type of player that can win you a game in the tournament with a hot stretch.
Mike Brey is one of the most underrated coaches in the sport and frequently finds ways to win with the deck stacked against him. Notre Dame is the furthest school on Girard’s radar from Glens Falls.
The Fighting Irish currently have a pretty stacked rotation at guard. Along with returning a handful of guys, ND also scooped up three four-star guards in its 2018 haul. Notre Dame perennially produces some great college guards and Brey squeezes every last ounce of potential out of them. Like Duke, it will come down to whether or not Girard wants to go so far away from home with a potentially tough road to playing time in front of him.
BC has become one of the most fun schools to watch on the court and it’s strictly because of their recent guard play. The three headed monster of Jerome Robinson, Ky Bowman and Jordan Chatman made them my personal favorite team to watch in college basketball last season. What made them so exciting? Lights out shooting. With Robinson gone to the NBA Draft, Chatman set to graduate after next year and Bowman potentially leaving next season, the Eagles need to retool at the guard position.
None of Boston College’s backups showed much promise last season, so Jim Christian will need to hit the recruiting trail to replace arguably the nation’s best scoring backcourt. BC is one of Girard’s best chances to play right away, but it may come down to whether he wants to lead a perennially weak team or be a crucial piece to a team with a chance to cut down the nets.
Penn State feels like the long shot in this equation, but here’s the saving grace: the Nittany Lions were the first major program to offer him. PSU feels like the Boston College of this race on the Big Ten side. There’s not a lot of history or success in recent memory. It also doesn’t help that Penn State just loaded up with four guards in the 2018 haul.