The commitment of Kamari Lands in April set the course of Syracuse’s ’21 into smooth waters. Locking down a top 25 recruit took the pressure off chasing other elite prospects in the class, while giving the program a centerpiece that drew other players. Justin Taylor jumped on the SU wagon a few weeks ago, giving the Orange one of the best classes in the nation. Syracuse isn’t finished yet, still offering scholarships to other rising players, and hoping for even bigger commitments like Kyle Filipowski or Quadir Copeland.
But we’re seeing now that Lands might not only have played a pivotal role in the formation of the class, as well as depressurizing the summer. He might also be better than we thought. At the Peach Jam, perhaps the most notable AAU tournament of the summer, he has thoroughly showed out. Playing for the L.A.-based Team Why Not, Lands has stuffed the stat sheets. Against Mac Irvin Fire, Lands dropped 24 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Against E1T1 United he tallied 16 points and 8 boards. He then notched a double-double, going for 20 and 10 against Team Melo. Then in a matchup against the New Heights Lightning, finished with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
In the four games, Lands averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds against the best prep talent in the country. Jim Boeheim was on hand at Peach Jam, as well as the head coaches at Arizona State, Arkansas, Connecticut, Duke, Fresno State, George Mason, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Minnesota, and Rutgers, just to name a few.
In November Lands was asked what player he models his game after, and after a pause brought up Buddy Hield. The sharpshooter was a bucket machine at Oklahoma, a 2-time Big 12 Player of the Year, and a first-team All-American. He was the Naismith College Player of the Year as well, and has settled into a role with the Kings as a legitimate scorer, and was a member of the NBA’s All-Rookie Team.
His game is undeniable. Lands is comfortable going to both his right and left with the dribble. He has a solid mid-range game, while also being able to rise-and-fire from the perimeter. He can finish at the rack, while also showing off solid defensive instincts which will thrive in the 2-3 Zone. He has the chance to be one of the highest rated recruits ever to land at SU.
While there is no stated timetable for the end of the Boeheim Era, the tea leaves would suggest we are within shouting distance of the finish line. The graduation of his two sons would appear to be a natural benchmark, and the success of Gerry McNamara on the recruiting trail suggests Boeheim could leave the program in good hands. His colleagues and peers are retiring, and the sport is undergoing major shifts. SU going all out for this recruiting class could be one final flourish for Boeheim to get a second banner.
Lands has been as good as advertised since committing to Syracuse, and may end up playing an enormous part in the program’s history. It’s lofty expectations to place on a young man who hasn’t even finished his high school career, but his game seems ready to handle it.