Four-star guard and Central New York native JJ Starling released his top five on Thursday night. To everyone’s relief, Syracuse did make the cut.
The La Lumiere combo guard will choose between Syracuse, Duke, Notre Dame, Stanford, and Northwestern sometime in October, according to Syracuse.com. Starling’s post drew instant attention from Buddy Boeheim and Symir Torrence, who both called for the Baldwinsville-born player to come home and join the Orange.
We at the Fizz would love for him to join Jim Boeheim and company, but Torrence has options for a reason. It’s pretty clear why he should come to SU, so let’s evaluate his other four options.
The Fighting Irish could also sell Starling on being a main guard, but he would have to wait a year to do so. Both Trey Wertz and Prentiss Hubb have two more years of eligibility left at ND, and neither really have a chance to make the jump to the NBA after next season. Starling would be forced to come off the bench until 2023, as Mike Brey plays his vets first and foremost. Notre Dame has not had much recent success, and the academics aren’t the greatest. Forget about great NIL deals for basketball players. We’re not 100% sure why the Irish make the cut.
This is an intriguing option. The Blue Devils already have a ball dominant commit in Dariq Whitehead, and three freshman guards (and Wendell Moore), who won’t all make the jump to the NBA. However, there definitely could be playing time for Starling if he conformed to a more traditional point guard spot. It’s interesting to consider the 6-foot-3 guard’s professional timeline. If he wants to go to the league after just one year of college, then a different school is the best option. But Duke would allow Starling to play at the highest level for multiple seasons.
Starling has a very interesting skillset, and it’s easily comparable to former Stanford guard and current Dallas Maverick Tyrell Terry.
Cardinal head coach Jerod Haase definitely showed Starling this film and said “you could be this.” And that’s a massive selling point, along with the great academics and potential sponsorships out in Stanford. This could be 1 or 1A with Syracuse on Starling’s list.
The three things we’ve considered with the three other schools come into play when discussing Northwestern. Academics? Yes. NIL? Maybe. Basketball? NO. The Wildcats are perennial Big Ten bottom-feeders who have a great head coach in Chris Collins, but can’t for the life of them find talent. Starling would easily be a top-3 player on the ‘Cats from the get-go, but it’s like Ben Simmons at LSU. He could be great, but the team will suffer, and people will doubt his ability.