The move to the ACC will always be a tortured one for Syracuse fans. Of course, everyone realizes the survival of the program as a Power 5 football school meant it was a necessity. Had the Orange not jumped ship to the ACC it would have been left for dead like UConn, scrambling for a home for football, taking a massive step back in the American (or another cut-rate league) and forever playing catchup in all programs.
But the heart still longs for the Big East, with the history of epic rivals, games against alumni that felt meaningful, and the long lost Big East Tourney. Oh sure, they still hold the B.E.T. at Madison Square Garden, but plenty of the beauty around it has been sanded away. Creighton? Butler? FS1? Meh.
That’s why Ian Jackson matters. He’s a 5-star recruit, and the best player in New York. He’s one of the best players in the country (ranked 2nd by 247 sports). But most importantly he’s New York City. He’s Bronx born and bred, a Cardinal Hayes standout, and he has all the Big Apple swagger packed into that 6’6″, 170 lb. frame.
It’s a long shot. He’s being wooed by Kentucky, UNC and Kansas. He’s a Class of ’24 recruit, meaning there’s still plenty of time to go before a final commitment. He’s leaning UK and Oregon, but he has yet to take his visits. Nabbing an official date to get Jackson on campus would be huge. Of all the schools he’s looking at, only St. John’s would have more NYC-vibes than SU. While it’s four hours away, campus is filled with students from the New York City area. Many of the colleges have professors that do work and travel regularly to NYC. When Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Knicks they famously played, “I’m coming home” on the big screen. If Melo feels an SU and Big Apple connection, Jackson can too.
SU could use any elite talent. It’s been years since the program delivered a first round NBA pick. But the streetball theatrics and hard edge that used to come from Pearl Washington and the parade of SU players that came after? That’s been in the rearview for awhile. The move to the ACC brings NC State and Wake Forest to the Dome. The conference tourney in Charlotte and Greensboro and D.C. leaves no emotional imprints. While it’s going to be difficult, Jackson in Orange would be a throwback to the roots of what made SU great.