The hand-wringing over Syracuse’s zone goes into overdrive during March Madness. The effectiveness of the 2-3 sends opponents into fits of vertigo, and coaches can’t seem to master teaching it to players on short notice. Jim Boeheim coaches it as well as anyone in the country, and Syracuse recruits directly for it. Enter Kamari Lands.
Height. Length. Wingspan. Athleticism. All the trademarks of effective zone defenders. Add newly committed Lands, a 5-star recruit and the perfect fit for the zone. He’s 6’8″. He’s 195 pounds. He’s wiry and long. He’s a top 20 recruit in the Class of ’22 according to ESPN, and he’s into playing zone.
“I like the zone. It’s definitely something I would do. I don’t see anything wrong with it and I can get a lot of steals and deflections out of it.” – Kamari Lands
Marquette, Georgetown and Texas Tech have all been very interested in Lands. He told 247 Sports back in the fall he liked the idea of playing zone to use his length to make defensive plays. Looking at his body type, he’s got all the tools to be disruptive in the 2-3. It’s always been a savvy move for the Orange to recruit specifically for the zone. Not every SU defender has been lean and speedy, but plenty of swingmen have been, and it’s led to a perplexing front for opponents to solve. Think of Hakim Warrick’s block to seal the ’03 National Championship for an iconic moment that symbolizes SU’s commitment (and rewards) from recruiting zone-centric players.
Lands is listed as a small forward but can play a combo guard as well, meaning he’d swing between the 2-guard and 3-spot on the floor. Place him up high in the zone, and it’s another fencepost to try and pick through. Syracuse’s Sweet 16 run could have only helped recruiting, and with big targets out there like Brandon Huntley-Hatfield and Zion Cruz, hopefully Lands is just the first of a run of good news.