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How Will This Season’s Struggles Impact Next Year’s Recruiting Class?

Credit Dennis Nett/Courtesy Syracuse.com

In case you haven’t heard, things aren’t going swimmingly for Syracuse men’s basketball. The Orange were exposed back in November by Colgate and haven’t been the same since. Right now, SU’s 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’ve deserved.

The shimmering bright spot throughout this year’s disappointment has been next year’s recruiting class. At the time of this writing, SU’s 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’s 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’s totally reasonable to object to predictions that next year’s class will fall apart. The five players Syracuse has gotten commitments from have shown no inclination that they’ll flip. However, the defection of former ‘22 commit Kamari Lands to Louisville should serve as a warning sign to any program worth its salt. Lands’ 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’s incoming recruits, that “something” within the program is an unfamiliar new helping of mediocrity. Being a single game under .500 in late January doesn’t mean the team is awful, but it’s below the standards set and expected by SU’s program. If Jim Boeheim and company are selling new recruits on a winning culture, they’d better quickly craft new messaging that this year’s stumble was a one-off.

To the credit of the staff, this year’s struggles in the win-loss column coupled with a lack of playing time haven’t deterred SU’s lone Class of ‘21 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’s 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’ve 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’re about to contribute to a program with solid footing and a bright future of winning. If the Class of ‘22 starts having doubts and fragments, the repercussions to Syracuse’s future recruiting classes could be fierce. 

With winnable games left and ample time to keep next year’s 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’s recruiting – having next year’s five on board is a lot more appetizing to the Class of ‘23 than not.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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