This is getting a bit concerning. Syracuse needs a backup center. Frank Anselem entering the transfer portal after the end of the season was logical. Quincy Ballard entering the portal and leaving FSU was also logical. It seemed like a perfect match for him to back up Jesse Edwards next season.
The Syracuse native decided he did not want to return to the Salt City and is headed to Wichita State instead. This leaves a gaping hole behind Edwards for Syracuse next season, with no solution in sight.
Jim Boeheim went on ESPN Syracuse with Eric Devendorf and company to talk about a variety of things, including the lack of a backup center, and what difficulty it’s caused him and his staff to find someone.
“Almost impossible,” Boeheim said. It is unsurprisingly hard to convince someone to join the program knowing they are going to be a backup, but Boeheim said their pitch is one that many other schools might not be able to offer in terms of concrete minutes.
“We have actually a good situation for a young, developing center,” Boeheim said. “Come in every day and play against Jesse, which will be good. Jesse gets in foul trouble. Jesse has played 27 minutes a game here. So a backup center—who is truly a backup, not quite ready—this is a perfect situation for him. Play 10- to 15-minutes per game, learn how to get better. If Jesse has a great year he can leave and now you can be a starter.”
Edwards’ 2022 season was cut short due to injury, but he’s expected to be ready to go in the fall. Incoming freshman Peter Carey is the only other big man on the roster right now. He is nowhere close to ready for minutes after missing multiple years of high school ball.
Boeheim has constantly reiterated that John Bol Ajak is a forward, not a center, so he’s out. Maybe if the Orange go to man-to-man defense as Boeheim has teased, they’ll play small lineups without a true center. That could prove pivotal in end-of-game scenarios. But, the safety net of a backup big is needed, and it’s proving tough to find.
“I can’t allow the program to go into next year, for example, without a backup center. We don’t have one,” Boeheim said.
Syracuse’s roster is almost complete, but there is still that one gaping hole behind Jesse Edwards left to fill. Day by day it’s going to get tougher to find, but Boeheim’s been doing this since 1975. It would be smart to bet on him. But, can he navigate the transfer portal era? Only a matter of time before we find out.