Syracuse men’s basketball is currently venturing into an interesting summer of recruiting. For one thing, it’ll be difficult to one-up its ballyhooed Class of 2022 that sits at No. 21 overall in the nation. SU has shot high and shot often for the crown jewels in the Class of ‘23, but the recruiting tides have ebbed and flowed in favor or against the Orange in a few cases. As time has gone on, Jim Boeheim’s squad has appeared to change course on a few prospects for reasons outside their control.
A nagging element to Syracuse’s recruiting exploits, at least since joining the ACC, has been the persistent strength of its in-conference rivals. For all the confetti thrown at the feet of this year’s freshman group, it still ranks 5th in the ACC and has just barely slotted into national ranks around Florida State’s and Notre Dame’s classes. Syracuse’s class isn’t bad by any means, but it simply doesn’t blow its Atlantic Coast competition out of the water – especially not with teams like Duke.
The Blue Devils may not have Coach K patrolling the sideline anymore, but they’re fresh off a Final Four appearance and armed with the conference’s best recruiting class. That latter fact isn’t stopping them from trying to poach some of SU’s targets, either.
Almost exactly a year ago today, 5-star center Kyle Filipowski was fresh off his Syracuse visit, and pictures of Syracuse’s uniform draped across his enormous wingspan were all the rage on social media. The Fizz covered SU’s part in his recruiting cycle pretty extensively, but read the tea leaves well enough to figure out that he was heading to Duke long before it happened. It’s easy to figure that if things had gone better for the Orange in recent years, Filipowski could have very well been a part of this year’s class. Instead, he and Kamari Lands are still the big Class of ‘22 fish that got away.
A year later, Duke is still a thorn in Syracuse’s side when it comes to wooing prospects into the Atlantic Coast. Within the last month, 4-star center JP Estrella has been a focus of Syracuse’s to the point of reported near-daily contact. Estrella was originally unranked on 247Sports before leaping up the list to be the No. 66 player in the nation in his class. SU’s buy-low strategy with unranked talent worked with Peter Carey, but the Blue Devils waited patiently enough to finally offer Estrella two days ago. It’s not necessarily a killer for Syracuse, but it certainly makes things more difficult. If you have offers from both schools, would you rather play for Duke or against them every year?
For recruits like Estrella and others, the question isn’t always that simple. However, attention and offers from Duke enter the equation when it comes to playing in a blue-blood heavy conference. SU could go a long way in helping itself win these types of fights by putting up an intriguing 2022-23 season and building a promising foundation to sell to top high school talent.