Syracuse finished up a sweep of North Carolina State last night with a convincing 77-68 victory. However, the chances of the Orange making the NCAA tournament seem pretty slim. With that being said, let’s take a look at some prospects that could help SU down the road. Maybe 2022 is the year Jim Boeheim finally snags an amazing big man.
Huntley-Hatfield is a 6-foot-10 (and still growing), 230-pound forward who attends Scotland Campus in Pennsylvania. Before Scotland, he was at IMG Academy, the current home of SU signee Benny Williams. The Tennessee native played with B. Maze Elite on the 2020 Under Armor AAU Circuit. He’s ranked as a five star by 247sports, and the sixth-best player in the class. Huntley-Hatfield has narrowed his list of schools down to six. Syracuse, Kansas, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Wake Forest and Auburn are his choices.
Huntley-Hatfield has been on the national recruiting radar for some time now (Auburn offered him when he was 14), but he’s become SU’s main recruiting focus after the Dior Johnson saga ended in November of 2020. The Orange offered him in December. He told the Athletic’s Matthew Gutierrez the fact that SU doesn’t have a major commitment was “really appealing.” Interesting. He also appreciates Syracuse’s record of utilizing “big wings” like Melo and C.J. Fair.
Although he is 6-foot-10, Huntley-Hatfield plays like a wing. He’s extremely agile and athletic for his size, can attack slower big men off the dribble and has a smooth jumper. He loves to leak out in transition for dunks (which might be a problem at Syracuse). Huntley-Hatfield has a ways to go in terms of learning defensive skills and filling out his body, but his athleticism is what makes him a five-star prospect. Think Marek Dolezaj with unbounded potential.
A name that got caught up in the whole Dior whirlwind was Chance Westry, a 6-foot-4, four-star guard. He was supposed to be one of the prospects Johnson would bring with him to the Hill, along with Zion Cruz and Roddy Gayle. Those days are now long gone, but it seems like SU could still have a chance with Westry.
The four-star guard, originally from Pennsylvania, transferred out to Sierra Canyon High School in California to play with the likes of Amari Bailey and Bronny James. Due to COVID-19 rescheduling in California, Westry and the Mustangs have only taken the court once this season against Coronado (a team with top-50 2021 hoopers Jaden Hardy and Frankie Collins).
Westry was tasked with guarding Hardy, and did a pretty good job, picking up some steals and points in transition along the way. He looks really comfortable handling and passing the ball (he’s never rushed), and looks to have grown into his body a bit more.
Westry has been silent lately about his recruitment, so it’s really a wait and see situation.
Taylor is a 6-foot-6, 210-pound wing from Charlottesville, Virginia. 247sports rates him as a four-star prospect, the 66th-best player in the class. Taylor attends St. Anne’s Belfield School and played for grassroots squad Team Takeover. His recruitment was picking up steam over the summer, when he first received an offer from Syracuse. Hometown school Virginia offered him in December, and it seems like other high-profile programs are waiting in the wings.
In an recent interview with Rivals, Taylor talked about his interactions with multiple schools during his recruitment. He said he’s talked to Jim Boeheim and Gerry McNamara consistently, and likes the freedom the SU guards are given to operate the offense and shoot from deep.
Taylor might have a similar build to Buddy Boeheim, but he isn’t just a spot-up shooter. Yes, the jump shot is beautiful, but it’s the ability to create and drive from the threat of the shot that makes Taylor a top-50 prospect. He’s got a college-ready frame, another key for a three-level scorer to come in and make an impact right away. The opportunity is there for Taylor to excel as like a souped-up version of Trevor Cooney, but pulling him away from Virginia could be a tough task.