With the summer right around the corner, Syracuse basketball recruiting season is bound to kick up immediately. Last June, Class of ‘22 forward Justin Taylor was the first domino to fall into place in SU’s upcoming class of freshmen. Guard Quadir Copeland followed in early August, and the Orange have only kept on adding pieces and excitement since.
As a more concentrated season of recruiting and commitments approaches, it appears that Jim Boeheim and his staff are still doing their due diligence on some of the Class of ‘23’s premier talents. We detailed some of Syracuse’s top center targets in that class a little while ago and one of its top point guard prospects, but it doesn’t appear that Syracuse is completely out of the running for some of the nation’s top talent.
Last week, 5-star standout combo guard DJ Wagner – 247Sports’ No. 1 recruit in the country – spoke with Jody Demling of Cardinal Authority (a Louisville blog) about which teams were currently courting him on the recruiting trail. Though Wagner is seen as a strong candidate to choose Kentucky thanks to his near-familial relationship with UK coach John Calipari, the former didn’t sound too committal when discussing which teams were still pursuing him and even name-dropped Syracuse.
“Wagner confirmed that at this time he doesn’t have any visits set up…he also said there are “other schools” still recruiting him and he mentioned Villanova, Memphis, Arkansas, Michigan, and Syracuse.” (Cardinal Authority’s Jody Demling, 4/22/22)
Granted, a general statement from Wagner doesn’t mean that he’s seriously considering Syracuse. 247Sports’ usually-accurate Crystal Ball predictor model tabs Wagner as a coin-flip commitment between Kentucky and Louisville, with Memphis (a former home to Calipari) lurking as a dark horse third choice. Syracuse offered Wagner last August, but through last winter appeared to be a longshot to land the Camden, NJ native’s talents.
SU staying in the mix for Wagner is an overall good sign, even if he ends up choosing to go to Kentucky or elsewhere. At the very least, Syracuse is showing that it takes the prospect of a nationally top-ranked player excelling in a nearby state seriously. It may be a tad cynical to dismiss ‘Cuse’s interest as merely being thorough and tire-kicking on a longshot, but it could also be a sign that SU is trying to push down on the gas pedal after gaining plenty of positive momentum from its successful Class of ‘22 crop. In any event, keep your fingers crossed. SU keeping tabs on low-risk, high-reward prospects is welcome, particularly after last season’s struggles.