Syracuse basketball fans have to be feeling themselves after two big wins to get back on track after a rough trip to Atlantis. A 2OT win over Indiana and a narrow and rare road win over Florida State have the pessimists rethinking some things. Jesse Edwards’ recent play likely has some recruiting pessimists stirring too. So while they’re starting to quiet down, the Orange have a prime opportunity to silence them completely.
The Jimmy V Classic presents a perfect opportunity for a surging Syracuse team to show off the program. Think about how young an aging Boeheim will look with his energy on the sidelines. Think about how high school bigs will rethink the stigma around Syracuse with Edwards dominating against the 6’9 max height of Villanova. Think about how pleasantly surprised recruits will be when they see the renovated Zone instead of the same old stuff from Boeheim, realizing the program is not stuck in its ways. All of that is wishful thinking. But it could happen. Playing in Madison Square Garden, in the heart of New York City, a fertile recruiting hotbed once belonging to Syracuse, could be the catalyst the Orange need to turn around their recruiting game.
All this comes in anticipation of the program’s “best recruiting class”, according to Boeheim when asked about the Class of 2022. But even that class screams a lack of territorial recruiting. Syracuse was not even on the radar of Rochester native and 2022 five-star Alabama commit Jaden Bradley. Another five-star New York native, Kyle Filipowski, committed to Duke for 2022. Then there’s Baldwinsville’s J.J. Starling going to Notre Dame instead of his hometown school. Syracuse is hardly even a contender for Garden Stater Zion Cruz anymore. The list goes on and on. Ohio State nabbed a Niagara Falls product. Villanova brought in a Jersey boy. Oklahoma came out of nowhere to grab a Somerset, NJ forward. And, of all the schools, Georgetown swooped into New Jersey too. All this is just in 2022 alone, and just in the ESPN top-100 list.
So many of those recruits grew up going to Madison Square Garden, and watching games on TV. Some, for future years, will probably even be in attendance. The Jimmy V Classic is a chance for SU to push aside the outsider programs and re-monopolize the tri-state area.
This is not to take anything away from the Class of 2022. Boeheim might be exaggerating, but it’s a fine group with a lot of potential. It’s certainly refreshing to have all the positions covered after just one freshman came in through 2021. However, this upcoming class is a one-off. The new group is currently ranked 14th nationally by 247 Sports. The last time the Orange recruiting class was ranked in the top-20 was 2016 (18th), headlined by New Jersey’s Tyus Battle. The prior year the newcomers were 8th, led by New Jersey’s Malachi Richardson.
The Class of 2022 doesn’t have a single tri-state area commit. The talent is clearly still there, like it was in 2015 and 2016. In most cases, Syracuse is making an effort to bring in those players. But there’s something undefinable in their way. Tomorrow’s game against Villanova is not only a chance to win maybe the biggest game of the year, but a chance to realign the recruiting scene for years to come.