In the midst of a veritable mid-June Syracuse sports desert, excitement has been hard to come by outside of the world of SU lacrosse. However, an oasis emerged yesterday in the form of a 6’6 small forward from Charlottesville, Virginia. Justin Taylor, a class of ’22 four-star recruit and the #2 overall prospect out of VA, chose Syracuse over his hometown UVA, Indiana, and UNC, among others.
Taylor’s decision comes two weeks removed from his official visit to Syracuse and his glowing review that followed. His arrival is a big get for Jim Boeheim and is another jagged pill to swallow for a seemingly growing faction of SU fans calling for change within the program. Newsflash, people: a Syracuse offer still holds quite a bit of pull.
However, that “pull” has worn off rather quickly for several of the latest star recruits to sparkle within the Syracuse basketball galaxy. No sensible SU fan should get fully invested in any high-level recruit after the last couple years of talent departure via transfer.
Taylor is the sixth four-star recruit for the Orange over the past four years. However, three of those names (Brycen Goodine and Quincy Guerrier in 2019, Kadary Richmond in 2020) have all bolted for greener pastures almost immediately. Goodine transferred to Providence in March 2020 after just one season, while Guerrier and Richmond left for Oregon and Seton Hall after the 2020-2021 season, respectively.
Those names provide the most recent sting, but let’s not forget about Jalen Carey. The Harlem native was a four-star in the class of 2018 and played sparingly in a year and change with the Orange before leaving for Rhode Island in June 2020.
Syracuse has shown they can still get good recruits. Heck, Justin Taylor wasn’t even the first big name in this cycle – that distinction goes to Benny Williams, a class of ‘21 small forward out of IMG who committed to SU last June. However, whether or not Taylor and Williams develop into contributors (or fizzle like Goodine and Carey) is completely irrelevant. At this point, it’s all about getting top recruits to stick around.
SU just saw two of its most intriguing young pieces leave after just a single season – the aforementioned Richmond and true freshman Woody Newton – who both offered some troubling reasons for their departure. Newton claimed he lost trust with SU’s program, while Richmond spoke at length about his positive relationship with Seton Hall. Flip that around, and it could mean his relationship with Syracuse simply didn’t develop.
With that in mind, the onus now falls on Jim Boeheim and his staff to make their newfound talent feel valued and part of the team’s future. It’s an important step if Syracuse wants to make the leap from perennial bubble-watcher to true contender and stop the hemorrhaging of talent that’s been haunting the program for years.