Yes, this is probably not the headline SU fans expected to see come across their timeline. But, despite recruiting rankings, where the rest of the roster stands, and the state of the conference, Papa Kante could have an incredible impact on Syracuse basketball‚Äôs present and future.
The center position has obviously been one that Syracuse had struggled to develop for almost a decade before Jesse Edwards blossomed in 2022. Rakeem Christmas continues to be the benchmark that current SU big men cannot reach in terms of statistics and impact.
There is considerable depth in that room with Mounir Hima and Peter Carey filling in behind Edwards coming up next season. But, you can never know what happens in the offseason, whether it be an injury, transfer, or other events that can impact a roster.
The class of 2023 has evaded Syracuse so far, with a big fat goose egg on the board for commitments. But, 2022 had reached this point as well, with Justin Taylor being SU‚Äôs first locked-in member of the class of 2022 when he announced his decision in late June last summer.
So, let‚Äôs look at Kante, who projects as a physical, intimidating presence in the paint at 6‚Äô10. He attends Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut, which has produced successful players like Hamidou Diallo, Tyson Etienne, and others.
Kante‚Äôs numbers may not blow you away, he‚Äôs outside the top 100 on 247 Sports and Rivals, but when you look at who has offered him, it screams more than his ranking. Defending national champions Kansas, Michigan, Maryland, Providence, Miami, and Iowa among others have offered the center.
If he continues to develop, Kante can become a force to be reckoned with in the paint, and hopefully, the Orange coaching staff can jump on his recruitment before it skyrockets out of their reach.
Edwards could possibly be gone after this season, and you never know what happens in the offseason if Hima does not pan out as Syracuse‚Äôs coaches expect, and Carey takes time to develop as well. Three centers in the room are likely the max SU would take on, and Kante could fill right in for Edwards if he departs to the professional ranks after this season.
Kante has the tools, athleticism, and elite intangibles to develop into an All-ACC caliber player, something Syracuse has not had in quite a long time. It‚Äôs only if the coaches believe they can land him, and turn him into the player we here at The Fizz think he could become if he were to don a Syracuse uniform.