It’s been over two months since Syracuse men’s basketball played its last game, but SU men’s hoops has continued to linger around the headlines as it heads into a long summer of AAU watching and Class of ‘23 commitment season. Duquesne center transfer Mounir Hima recently committed to play for the Orange over 15-plus other prospective suitors, and how much playing time he gets over returning senior Jesse Edwards at the five will be an interesting storyline to watch.
Speaking of jostling for playing time, that’s exactly what it looks like SU’s much-heralded Class of 2022 recruiting crop has in store on the horizon. From Chris Bunch to Quadir Copeland to Judah Mintz, ‘Cuse’s incoming class of freshmen is loaded with talent – but has appropriately caused plenty of us to wonder aloud how much each newcomer is going to play.
Jim Boeheim has commented that at least one freshman could start, but the factor that will likely dictate who plays more is down to skillset and fit within the 2-3 zone. 247Sports Director of Scouting Adam Finkelstein appeared on Matthew DeBritz’ “Dome Dawg” podcast about a week ago and delivered an assessment of the incoming class and its fit within Syracuse’s system.
“I do think there’s an upgrade in size, especially on the perimeter, coming in with length and athleticism…I do think those things should translate well…the question is, quite frankly, is [if] the incoming class is going to be as good offensively.” (Adam Finkelstein on The Dome Dawg Podcast, 5/10/22)
For reference, Syracuse’s ‘22 class includes 6’3” guard Judah Mintz, 6’7” forward Chris Bunch, 6’6” forward Justin Taylor, 6’6” guard Quadir Copeland, 6’9” power forward Maliq Brown, and 6’11” center Peter Carey. There’s certainly a lot of length to go around, and that’s even more of a good thing to have within the 2-3 zone. There’s enough athleticism here that Boeheim has even hinted that the team could play man-to-man defense in some capacity next season.
Finkelstein’s other point about scoring isn’t exactly a dig at the recruiting class, either. The 2021-22 Orange finished 16-17, but were still a Top 40 scoring offense in the country that ranked in the Top 20 in three-point percentage. Without the Boeheim brothers and Cole Swider, Syracuse can’t keep that pace going. Entrusting minutes and point-production in true freshmen is a risky proposition, but Finkelstein calls Mintz in particular a “true two-way player” who has gotten “a lot more efficient [on the offensive end]…in the premier high school league in the country.”
If Finkelstein’s analysis holds up, Syracuse’s construction and defense should be much more sound than they were last winter. Tangible improvement in those areas could very well be the difference between another sub-.500 season and a return to bubble watch come springtime.