The Bruce Pearl factor is real. Not only is he teflon, since nothing sticks to him long term. But he’s also locking official visits and high praise from northeastern recruits. Recently, 5-star combo guard Zion Cruz said the Tigers were the top school on his list. And now highly coveted Chance Westry took an official visit to the Plains as well.
It has long been speculated Syracuse was on the outside looking in on Cruz. While he hails from New Jersey, fertile recruiting ground for the Orange, the optimism surrounding his decision has waned considerably for months. He’s a player that loves crunch time situations and the ball in his hands to make plays, but perhaps SU’s offensive style isn’t as palatable to him.
Cruz says he wants to make a commitment by the end of the summer, and the Tigers “are at the top of my list. I love the family feel at Auburn. It’s a big family and I’m really big on that.” He’s had other official visits scheduled like Oregon. SU isn’t one of them yet.
Westry is a player Orange Nation is clamoring for. The Harrisburg, PA native took his turn playing for the star-laden Sierra Canyon squad with Bronny James. The 6’4″ combo guard had an early offer from the Orange. In fact, as early as February ’20 two experts at 247 Sports pegged SU as the favorites to land him. But that’s a lifetime ago in the whims of college recruiting.
Westry just took his official visit to Auburn last week, with Nebraska before that. So far, Syracuse is not one of his scheduled visits. But that also can change. He has admitted the Orange is one of the schools coming after his hardest.
So what is it about Auburn? It’s Pearl, plain and simple. First off, he wins. Everywhere he’s gone, his programs have won conference titles and gone to the NCAA Tournament. Since he’s been in the SEC (’05), he’s been to the Big Dance eight times and would’ve went in ’20 when it was canceled. Between Tennessee and Auburn he’s been to a Final Four, an Elite 8 and two Sweet 16s. He’s also impossible to keep down. He got a three-year show cause penalty at UT for lying to the NCAA and still got the Auburn gig. The Adidas scandal swallowed up his assistant Chuck Person, and nearly got Pearl fired. But surprise, surprise, he’s still the head coach.