When you think of some of the elite recruiters in college basketball, your mind probably goes to the likes of John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski or Bill Self. Five to ten years ago, you may have also thought of Jim Boeheim, but his self-admitted struggles with picking up a really quality big man over the last few cycles have dropped his stock just a bit.
That stock began to rise a bit more, however, when Boeheim picked up a massive recruiting win with the commitment of 2022 point guard Dior Johnson. The New York state native, who’s the best recruit Syracuse has had since Carmelo Anthony, snapped a nearly six-year-long stretch of the Orange not having a five-star recruit head to SU (the last was Chris McCullough in 2014) and will undoubtedly be the shining star of the next handful of recruiting cycles for the ‘Cuse.
If he does end up coming to SU (he says if he takes the college path it will be to Syracuse but he’ll weigh his professional options if the NBA waives the one-and-done rule), his on-the-court impact will be outstanding. That’s pretty clear cut. But what makes Johnson’s commitment even more impactful is how he can play a dual role for SU, not only as an on-the-floor player, but as an off-the-court recruiter.
Not only has Johnson made it clear and obvious that he’s all in on Syracuse and that he’s very unlikely to waver from that decision with his vocal support of the Orange over the last few weeks, but he’s also seemingly made a commitment to bringing other elite prospects to Central New York with him.
Much like Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish made a plan to team up and dominate at Duke, Johnson is trying to bring together his own army of superstars at Syracuse.
The North Carolina game on Saturday is a perfect example of how Johnson has the power to make that dream a reality and become a great recruiter for SU. Johnson was probably the best recruit in attendance for the Orange’s loss to the Tar Heels, but seated right beside him in a yellow sweatshirt was another elite prospect that SU desperately wants.
That guy in the yellow is fellow 2022 guard Chance Westry. The Pennsylvania native is a consensus top 30 recruit and an upper-echelon four-star prospect according to both 247Sports and Rivals.
For good reason, Syracuse wants him bad and so that means Johnson does as well. The kind of sell job that Johnson can give to Westry about the program about teaming up together to take down some of the blue bloods of college basketball like Duke and Carolina is more powerful than anything anybody on the Syracuse staff can say to him. That’s an elite guy his age saying that he wants to get together and dominate the college basketball world.
That’s a pretty tough pitch to say no to and apparently it might just be the thing that sways Westry’s decision in the Syracuse direction. According to 247Sports’ Crystal Ball predictions, Westry is a 100% lock to come to SU.
And that Johnson’s power to make a tough-to-turn-down sales pitch doesn’t stop with Westry. According to CuseNation.com 2021 four-star forward Benny Williams and 2022 point guard JJ Starling from nearby Baldwinsville were also in attendance for the UNC game and probably heard a similar pitch from Johnson.
We’ve seen high-level recruits wield an immense amount of recruiting power with other programs. Simply put, great players want to team up with other great players, win basketball games and begin to create their legacies. That desire to be the best is what makes securing Dior Johnson’s commitment so critical for Syracuse.
If the Orange can successfully use his commitment to create more buzz around the program and lure more elite-level prospects to Central New York, then the five-star drought may quickly become a thing of the past.