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After Clingan and Filipowski, Which Direction Does SU Go At The Center Position?

Credit Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Syracuse basketball has had a mostly intriguing offseason marked by some exciting commitments. The additions of four-stars Kamari Lands in April and Justin Taylor in late June have jolted some excitement back into the program. That’s an important step to recoup the losses of several starters from last year and a tantalizing future star in Kadary Richmond.

Lands and Taylor are big gets, but the one thing that would tie Syracuse’s offseason together would be a big-time center commit. As of right now, there isn’t such a commitment, but you can’t blame SU for not trying.

Class of 2022 big men Kyle Filipowski (the #6 overall class of ‘22 center prospect by 247Sports) and Donovan Clingan (#8 on the same list) were both heavily recruited by Syracuse and generated their fair share of buzz. However, Clingan committed to UConn just five days ago, and Filipowski’s impending commitment to Duke is somewhat of a foregone conclusion as of the time of this writing.

With that in mind, where does Syracuse go from here at the five?

At the moment, it doesn’t appear SU has a ton of high-profile options. The only other true center listed as a Syracuse target by 247Sports other than Filipowksi is class of ‘22 center Tichyque Musaka, who doesn’t even have a star rating by the site’s metrics. Musaka is 6’10, 200 lbs out of San Jose, CA but remains somewhat of an unknown quantity. Syracuse has yet to offer Musaka, while others such as Georgetown, Illinois, and Kansas have already done so.

Syracuse has also been known to be heavily recruiting class of 2022 center Christ Essandoko as recently as last month. Essandoko stands at 6’10, 260 lbs and plays his high school ball at Winston-Salem Prep in North Carolina after a move across the pond from Paris, France. Per 247Sports, Essandoko has visited Maryland but seems to be flying somewhat under the radar. With Clingan and Filipowski going by the boards for SU, Essandoko would be a great consolation prize for Coach Boeheim and company.

It’s also worth mentioning that former Illinois 7-footer Kofi Cockburn entered the transfer portal on July 1st. Cockburn put up 15.5 PPG his past two years at Illinois, practically strong-armed the Fighting Illini into the tournament last season as a 1 seed, and was actually recruited by the Orange back in 2016. A Cockburn transfer to SU might be unlikely, but it’s plausible and would immediately catapult Syracuse into contender conversation.

Finally, it should be said that Syracuse might end up with none of these guys, and that’s not the end of the world. Rising junior Jesse Edwards showed a lot at the five at the end of last season. Any ‘Cuse fan who watched the tournament should be excited about what he could bring to the table in 2021-22 and should keep in mind that the potential absence of a cherry-on-top center commit won’t ruin what has already been a sundae of a recruiting class.

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