In case you haven‚Äôt heard, things aren‚Äôt going swimmingly for Syracuse men‚Äôs basketball. The Orange were exposed back in November by Colgate and haven‚Äôt been the same since. Right now, SU‚Äôs 9-10 record and 3-4 mark in the ACC are surprisingly poor figures for a team that entered the year with more fanfare than it might‚Äôve deserved.
The shimmering bright spot throughout this year‚Äôs disappointment has been next year‚Äôs recruiting class. At the time of this writing, SU‚Äôs Class of 2022 is still ranked 24th nationally with five pretty intriguing-looking players. For a team that has struggled to recruit the best talent since entering the ACC and was staggered by last year‚Äôs transfer portal exodus, a new infusion of skillful youth looks like a lifeline.
That is, if they can keep the class together.
From the jump, it‚Äôs totally reasonable to object to predictions that next year‚Äôs class will fall apart. The five players Syracuse has gotten commitments from have shown no inclination that they‚Äôll flip. However, the defection of former ‚Äò22 commit Kamari Lands to Louisville should serve as a warning sign to any program worth its salt. Lands‚Äô primary motivation was to search for better NIL opportunities, but his choice shows that players now have the power to drift away if they sense something amiss within a program.
For Syracuse‚Äôs incoming recruits, that ‚Äúsomething‚Äù within the program is an unfamiliar new helping of mediocrity. Being a single game under .500 in late January doesn‚Äôt mean the team is awful, but it‚Äôs below the standards set and expected by SU‚Äôs program. If Jim Boeheim and company are selling new recruits on a winning culture, they‚Äôd better quickly craft new messaging that this year‚Äôs stumble was a one-off.
To the credit of the staff, this year‚Äôs struggles in the win-loss column coupled with a lack of playing time haven‚Äôt deterred SU‚Äôs lone Class of ‚Äò21 recruit. Freshman forward Benny Williams has stood firm in the face of some difficult questions, all while showing off some pretty impressive humility and work ethic. SU can now only hope he backs up his public statements in a few months.
In the meantime, none of SU‚Äôs incoming five recruits – Chris Bunch, Justin Taylor, Quadir Copeland, Maliq Brown, and Peter Carey – have yet signed letters of intent to join the program. They‚Äôve committed, yes – but in this era, that means less than it probably should. SU needs to make a strong effort to assure these players that they‚Äôre about to contribute to a program with solid footing and a bright future of winning. If the Class of ‚Äò22 starts having doubts and fragments, the repercussions to Syracuse‚Äôs future recruiting classes could be fierce.
With winnable games left and ample time to keep next year‚Äôs class together, Syracuse now controls plenty concerning the future of the program. Keep the season and class together this Spring, and a successful finish to a rough season could help next year‚Äôs recruiting – having next year‚Äôs five on board is a lot more appetizing to the Class of ‚Äò23 than not.