The Orange has suffered through another rollercoaster season, and with that comes the annual spot atop the bubble. The matchup vs. NC State is the latest “make or break” game, that experts have suggested will decide Syracuse’s March fate.
Considering this is one of the most acclaimed group of targets recruits in school history, the pressure to have a good showing this month is on. Syracuse is in on multiple 5-star players and a handful in the top 50 nationally. Certainly there’s many other factors that can decide a recruitment. Fit with a coaching staff, playing time, familiarity with teammates, proximity to home, comfort on campus, are all reasons a recruit can decide on his school.
But this is also a generation of players looking to get to the NBA or play professionally somewhere. They all recognize the best way to accomplish that is by playing for a winner. I spoke with ’82 National Champ Matt Doherty recently. He coached at UNC among other stops. I asked him how the game has changed and whether the sport should be worried about retaining talent and financially supporting itself.
“Yes, bottom line, yes. Plus the G-League plus the value of a college education, right? I mean you can get so much online now. The affiliation, the financial model, how do you justify coaches getting paid that much money and then the people who are cutting the cord. So yes, yes and yes, it is not an ideal time to be in college athletics.”
High school kids want the spotlight that a winning program gives them. They also have options other than college opening up annually like the G-League, overseas and other basketball academies. It’s much different than 10-20 years ago. When SU is recruiting against the big boys of college with designs on deep tourney runs, not even making the dance or exiting the first weekend can really hurt your stock. 5-star talents like Brandon Huntley-Hatfield and Zion Cruz have plenty of options. So does 4-star forward Maliq Brown. Not making the Big Dance isn’t necessarily the end of these recruitments, but it means there’s even more ground to make up against those that did.