The summer recruiting season has all but come and gone, and Syracuse men‚Äôs hoops‚Äô 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‚Äôve talked before about how a quality-over-quantity Class of ‚Äò23 would benefit both newcomers and the soon-arriving Class of ‚Äò22 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‚Äôve seen small recruiting crops before (namely the Class of ‚Äò21 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‚Äô3‚Äù, 180-pound Jersey City native has played for the Albany City Rocks this summer in Nike‚Äôs Peach Jam tournament, and attracted quite a crowd last Thursday. Virginia, Kansas, Iona (now under Rick Pitino‚Äôs tutelage) and Syracuse were all present to watch Gertrude put up 13 points and five assists in a victory. SU‚Äôs viewing entourage that night is of particular note – Jim Boeheim, Gerry McNamara, and Adrian Autry were all in attendance.
Syracuse‚Äôs presence hasn‚Äôt been lost on Gertrude, whose stock is rising and predicted by some to soon be ranked as a 4-star prospect. SU‚Äôs 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‚Äôs team spent Thursday‚Äôs Peach Jam game playing zone defense, he commented to Zagsblog.com that he ‚Äúabsolutely‚Äù plans to visit Syracuse and had more to say on SU‚Äôs 2-3 defense.
‚ÄúThe zone, they feel that I can play well in that zone that they run‚Ä¶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‚Äôre a fan favorite at Syracuse.‚Äù (Gertrude to Zagsblog.com, 7/22/22)
Gertrude‚Äôs defensive strength is of particular note, but it‚Äôs been his improving shot – especially from outside – that has raised his profile in recent months.
‚ÄúElijah 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‚Äôs doubted his ability to shoot the ball from three has paid dearly as he is shooting over 40% from deep.‚Äù (City Rocks Head Coach Jimmy Hart to Zagsblog.com, 7/22/22)
SU isn‚Äôt in desperate need of an immediate plug-and-play guard, but Gertrude‚Äôs interest in Syracuse should be noted. A plus defender at the top of the Orange zone is always a good thing. If Gertrude‚Äôs visit to The Hill goes well, he could very well be in the mix for Syracuse‚Äôs first commit in the Class of ‚Äò23.