The summer recruiting season has all but come and gone, and Syracuse men’s hoops’ recruiting haul is conspicuous by its absence. A year after assembling a nationally ranked Top 25 class, the Orange have been quiet this year.
We’ve talked before about how a quality-over-quantity Class of ‘23 would benefit both newcomers and the soon-arriving Class of ‘22 by not chopping up playing time for all parties, but Syracuse looks like it may make a move or two soon in its upcoming class. We’ve seen small recruiting crops before (namely the Class of ‘21 that featured Benny Williams and no one else), and this group may not be too different. So far only two players – JP Estrella and Reid Ducharme – have trekked up for an official visit, but that may soon change.
3-star point guard Elijah Gertrude is rising quickly on recruiting boards and recently discussed his commitment cycle. The 6’3”, 180-pound Jersey City native has played for the Albany City Rocks this summer in Nike’s Peach Jam tournament, and attracted quite a crowd last Thursday. Virginia, Kansas, Iona (now under Rick Pitino’s tutelage) and Syracuse were all present to watch Gertrude put up 13 points and five assists in a victory. SU’s viewing entourage that night is of particular note – Jim Boeheim, Gerry McNamara, and Adrian Autry were all in attendance.
Syracuse’s presence hasn’t been lost on Gertrude, whose stock is rising and predicted by some to soon be ranked as a 4-star prospect. SU’s buy-low strategy worked with Peter Carey last year and has helped it remain in the mix for 4-star combo guard Elmarko Jackson this year. After Gertrude’s team spent Thursday’s Peach Jam game playing zone defense, he commented to Zagsblog.com that he “absolutely” plans to visit Syracuse and had more to say on SU’s 2-3 defense.
“The zone, they feel that I can play well in that zone that they run…Coach Red [Autry] talks about it a lot, just the fans in the building, the community. He talks about you get in that zone, you get a steal, you get a dunk, you’re a fan favorite at Syracuse.” (Gertrude to Zagsblog.com, 7/22/22)
Gertrude’s defensive strength is of particular note, but it’s been his improving shot – especially from outside – that has raised his profile in recent months.
“Elijah has explosive athleticism that translates in games, catching lobs, put backs, chase down blocks, rebounds above the rim and the ability to blow by the quickest defenders. Anyone that’s doubted his ability to shoot the ball from three has paid dearly as he is shooting over 40% from deep.” (City Rocks Head Coach Jimmy Hart to Zagsblog.com, 7/22/22)
SU isn’t in desperate need of an immediate plug-and-play guard, but Gertrude’s interest in Syracuse should be noted. A plus defender at the top of the Orange zone is always a good thing. If Gertrude’s visit to The Hill goes well, he could very well be in the mix for Syracuse’s first commit in the Class of ‘23.