Five. Star. Commit.
Those are words Syracuse hasn’t been able to boast in roughly six years. However, that all changed on Friday (Feb. 7) when Class of 2022 guard Dior Johnson announced his commitment to the Orange.
“I don’t have anything against the Blue Bloods, but I’m the kind of guy who wants to go to a school where I can play against them and beat them,” Johnson told Sports Illustrated.
Playing in the ACC, Johnson will most certainly get opportunities to do just that, at SU. As a matter of fact, the five-star commit was on-campus for the Orange’s Feb. 1 game against Duke.
Syracuse came up a mere nine points short, but while watching in The Dome, it’s possible Johnson could have pictured a few alternate, future scenarios in his head. Perhaps most prominently, one where a Dior-led Syracuse squad takes down those blue-blood Blue Devils, in front of a roaring Carrier Dome crowd. After all, Syracuse fans have been thirsting for a player of Johnson’s caliber – probably even more than they were for a cup of hot cocoa today during a torrential Central New York snowstorm.
Dior is only 16 years old and would be just 18 at the start of his SU career. However, the Mayfair High School product has a realistic opportunity to earn a larger than life-type of reputation on The Hill.
Syracuse basketball is rich in history and is still undeniably prominent, both locally and even nationwide. Equally undeniably though, is the fact SU does not have the same reputation it once did. The Orange hasn’t landed a five-star recruit since Chris McCullough in 2014 (which was practically a lock from the get-go), and is in danger of failing to reach 24 wins for a sixth consecutive season. Just the thought of Johnson coming in and leading Syracuse past Blue Bloods like Duke – and helping restore past program precedent – would easily solidify the Ulster County native free meals and drinks for life, throughout all of Central New York.
I mean, it’s been 17 seasons since Carmelo Anthony played at Syracuse, and there’s no doubt he hasn’t been – nor ever will be – forgotten in these parts. Fun fact, Dior would actually be the highest-ranked recruit nationally to play at SU since Melo, back in 2002-2003.
Currently a sophomore at Mayfair High School (Lakewood, CA), Johnson is originally a native of Kingston, NY – approximately three hours southeast of Syracuse. Before attending Mayfair, Johnson spent time at a few different places, including Saugerties Senior High School. All in all, he’s been playing varsity basketball since the seventh grade.
Johnson is the top-ranked point guard in the nation, for the Class of ’22 (247Sports). It also doesn’t hurt that he spends a great deal of his time being mentored by LeBron James while playing for LBJ’s Strive For Greatness AAU team, alongside James’s son Bronny.
There’s absolutely no denying the significance of this commitment for SU, however, it does come a caveat. Johnson will not be graduating from high school until 2022, and a lot could happen over the next two-plus years.
One possibility is the end of the rule that forces amateur hoopers to attend one year of college. This would likely put an end to the ever-common “one-and-one” trend we so often see in college basketball. In the event of the rule ultimately being lifted, Johnson has admitted he would weigh his options.
For the time being, however, Syracuse fans have every reason to get excited.