Every day, another domino falls in this crazy college basketball offseason. Players are entering and leaving the transfer portal at a record rate. From a national perspective, it’s impossible to keep up with.
From a Syracuse perspective, this offseason has a been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Last week, SU endured three transfers days after the loss to Houston, and promptly added Symir Torrence and Cole Swider later in the week. On Monday, Bourama Sidibe announced that he would be returning for a fifth year, and just yesterday, Woody Newton left the program and Kamari Lands committed just hours later. Keep in mind, Orange fans are still wonder what the future holds for Alan Griffin, Quincy Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj.
So yes, a whirlwind. Here’s a nice succinct summary of two wild weeks for SU.
Let’s take these side-by-side comparisons and evaluate. Did Jim Boeheim’s roster improve, or should we expect a drop-off in the next two years? We’ll find a verdict for each position group.
So the swap at the top of the 2-3 zone is one that’s already caused plenty of debate, opinion and concern. Kadary Richmond is headed to Seton Hall, and the Marquette transfer Torrence fills his place. The 6-foot-3 combo guard has plenty of potential, as he was rated a four-star prospect in the class of 2020 and the best player in New York (ahead of Richmond). However, he’s less than proven, which is the knock that many Syracuse fans have. Richmond came in last year and made an immediate impact, one that extended far beyond the stat sheet. Can Torrence do the same? He never really got the opportunity to do so at Marquette, so the jury’s still out.
Verdict: Wait and See
Two wings are gone (Braswell and Newton), and three are incoming. Of course, there’s still plenty of time before Lands joins the Orange on campus, so we’ll leave him out of this discussion for now. Swider and Williams are on the SU roster in 2021, essentially replacing the outgoing transfers. Honestly, this is a huge win for Syracuse. While questions about Swider’s defensive abilities linger until the season begins in October, his shooting skill is undeniable. He improved each year at Villanova from behind the arc, not to mention playing big-time games under the tutelage of one of the best coaches in America. Benny Williams should be an instant impact player from day one, without the growing pains and trips to the Boeheim doghouse that both Braswell and Newton suffered.
Verdict: Syracuse improves
Bourama Sidibe’s return and John Bol Ajak’s departure are the newsworthy events from the center spot. If Syracuse is ready to move forward from Sidibe, it didn’t seem like Ajak was the answer in the first place. Jesse Edwards was by far the best backup center last season, and Frank Anselem barely got a chance to stretch his legs on the court. Ajak’s departure clears the way for a transfer center, or for Anselem to take a larger step forward in year two.
Verdict: Stays the Same