Zero-star recruit Peter Carey might not be the big man that Syracuse fans dreamed of, but he’s the big man that they got. There’s a lot riding on Carey’s ability to anchor the Zone in the middle, and defy the scouting reports and small offer sheet.
Now that Carey is in for 2022 with Quadir Copeland and Justin Taylor, the Orange have a point guard, shooting guard, and center. If nothing else, that’s strong balance to the class. But balance isn’t everything, and for this class to be as complete as can be having missed out on some key guys, they’ll need JJ Starling.
The four-star combo guard from Baldwinsville was once upon a time a lock to the Hill. However, SU’s attention was diverted away from Starling and towards the Dior Johnsons of the world so much that it seems like Starling’s attention drifted too. Now he has offers from Duke, Notre Dame, Maryland, and Stanford, among others. This is no longer a Central New Yorker slated to stay home. Instead, it’s Syracuse fighting for a nationally renowned recruit.
Syracuse needs Starling for a multitude of reasons. For one, they need to control their home turf in recruiting. That includes the Montreal area. If Duke can swoop in and steal Starling from under Jim Boeheim’s nose without Mike Krzyewski, that forcasts more dark days on the SU recruiting trail. On the court, Starling would be a nice add. Copeland and Taylor seem like they could be a strong combo at the top of the Zone, but the 2022 Orange will rely heavily on freshmen. So, Boeheim will need a bench to be able to yank the young guys when they make a mistake. Ideally, there is more experience at Boeheim’s disposal if he pulls a freshman. But Starling would provide essential depth.
Then there’s the shooting. Starling is ranked 33rd in the class, but is widely regarded as one of 2022’s top shooters. That has become more and more of a staple in SU’s identity, and projects to be an even bigger part of the offense this year. Copeland could be a strong point guard, but won’t give the Orange the same shooting punch that Starling would.