The Class of ’22 is historic for Syracuse, not only in its size but also its national ranking. Jim Boeheim suggested it could be perhaps his best class ever, and its currently 14th overall and 4th in the ACC according to 247 Sports. Other places have them rated close to the top 10. Most of the last decade has seen SU pull in classes ranked between 30-45 nationally. The last top 20 class was ’16, with Matt Moyer and Tyus Battle according to 247. The last class to be in the top 10 was ’15, with Malachai Richardson, Tyler Lydon and Frank Howard. They rated 8th in the nation, and would help SU to its last Final Four appearance.
Considering the last 5 years have been good, not great, classes for Syracuse it was noticeable how aggressive the staff was for this class. The Orange has a reputation of being extremely selective with its offers. They don’t like everyone, and they know fit is more important than sheer talent. But the Class of ’22 always seemed like a break from that line of thinking (unless this year’s high school talent simply had more fits than most others).
While SU reeled in a fantastic five commits, there was even more talent the Orange targeted. Kamari Lands is a top 50 recruit and de-committed from SU for more NIL opportunities. Imagine Kamari in this class as well? The Orange eventually lost Kyle Filipowski to Duke, but SU was a main player in the race for a 5-star, top 10 overall recruit. It was down to the wire for 4-star Arthur Kaluma, another top 50 player, until he chose Creighton. SU had been hot on Zion Cruz at the beginning of the process, a 5-star, top 30 athlete. Chance Westry had SU as a finalist before he chose Auburn, and he’s also a top 35 recruit nationally. They were deep in on local product JJ Starling.
Clearly the Orange went all in on this year’s recruiting class and it’s impossible not to line up the expectations of how long Boeheim has left on the sideline. Coach K is walking away. Roy already has. Rick Pitino is in the MAAC. All of his peers are nearing the end.
Boeheim has told this class he will coach them in ’22-’23, and per usual has bristled at those who have asked him about retirement. While it was clearly premature a decade ago, at 76 the inevitability is that every year is possibly the last. More importantly, this recruiting cycle is almost guaranteed to see that coaching change during their time on the Hill if they stay four years.
Even though his sons will be gone after this season, Boeheim says he plans to coach the next class. That would make sense with how aggressively they targeted big talent and a big class. Perhaps the staff viewed this as his last great chance at a second national title. Perhaps he wants to go out with guns ablaze. Chris Bunch is already discussing winning the ACC with this group around him. The Class of ’22 has a chance to be legendary in the anthology of SU basketball because it’s tied to the end of a legend. It certainly appears as though SU said to “go big” before Boeheim “goes home.”