To nobody’s surprise, SU center Frank Anselem has entered the transfer portal. With this being the Syracuse’s issues at the center position continue to compound. Last season, John Bol Ajak was almost out the door, while Bourama Sidibe‘s injury elongated into the late parts of this year. Even the recruiting process looks bleak in regards to centers showing attention to the Orange. In fact, in the upcoming recruiting class, Syracuse was even in the running for four-star Donovan Clingan.
This proves two things: SU’s depth at the center position is and will continue to tumble if the system stays the same, and Peter Carey means a whole lot more to SU than he did when committing last fall.
First off, the notion that Jesse Edwards is the starter and a reliable weapon is a valid one, but as seen this past season, if anything happens to Edwards, or he suffers a sharp decline due to his wrist injury, then the Orange are in shambles. That being said, Syracuse is set in terms of locking down a consistent and trustworthy pick-and-roll, slashing, and good defensive big man. But the position should still warrant a boatload of concerns.
With the transfer portal acting as the new “get out of jail free card” in college basketball, mainly for those who believe they should garner more playing time, Syracuse has caught itself on a double-edged sword. No center will want to transfer into a program that time and time again shows how much it disregards the necessity of a true “5” in the game at all times. Plus, there’s not much of a reason that recruits should lean toward SU when other ACC programs like Duke, North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia Tech are so strategic in how they utilize their plethora of centers.
Along with that, the more players that transfer out of Syracuse, the worse the program looks, especially if it continues to circle around forwards and centers. That’s because SU clearly prioritizes its guards, so with a fading selling point in the career of Jim Boeheim, the Orange are in deep water in regards to adding centers, and frankly power forwards as well, moving forward.
But, not all hope is lost by Anselem entering the portal and Syracuse’s center room thinning out. The recruitment of 2022 three-star Peter Carey is very important. This is not to say that Jim Boeheim will play him, but with how inconsistent Ajak has been in critical junctures, and the foul trouble and injury history that has plagued Edwards’ career thus far, Carey adds a youthful presence who can play major minutes and prove that SU revitalized its depth with his commitment. But as of now, his play and time on the floor is still in question.
Along with Carey, three-star Maliq Brown’s role as a power forward and pseudo-stretch center is another option for the Orange. Either way, the 2022 recruits found the perfect time to rescue Syracuse from its ineptitude down low, but now it’s up to the coaching staff to utilize their newfound youthful presences in the paint in ways they feel fit.
As a result of Anselem leaving the program, and the influx of participation in the transfer portal, Syracuse has to be extra strategic in how it treats Carey and Brown, because one positional center mishap could lead to the downfall of the program for years to come.