Elijah Gertrude is on Syracuse’s turf. He’s a star on the Albany City Rocks AAU team. He’s a dynamic playmaker for Jersey City-based Hudson Catholic. And he’s being recruited by a slew of SU’s most important recruiting rivals. This one is a big one for the Orange, and Jim Boeheim knows it. At Peach Jam, SU had Boeheim, Red Autry and Gerry McNamara all watch his games. They know he’s a crucial piece of the recruiting puzzle.
Gertrude is a combo guard in the ’23 class, rated as a 3-star player at the moment and a the 21st best at his position according to 247 Sports. But his recent production and late start means the recruiting world is waiting for him to jump up in the ratings. Most believe he’ll be a 4-star, top 50 player in due time.
This means SU needs to capitalize. He fits the Orange scheme perfectly, the type of lengthy wing player SU has feasted on for decades. He told Adam Zagoria, “The zone, they feel that I can play well in that zone that they run… They got guys in the NBA sort of like me, long guys that play that zone, get out in transition and get a couple dunks.”
The Orange are also battling against teams it needs to keep at bay. Seton Hall and Rutgers have offers to Gertrude, a pair of Jersey schools moving in on an in-state kid who is probably underrated right now. Steve Pikiell has the Scarlet Knights headed in the right direction, with back to back winning seasons and an NCAA berth. Seton Hall has hired the most famous small school coach in years, Shaheen Holloway from St. Peter’s.
Virginia is also offering Gertrude, which is a power program in the ACC trying to poach a player in SU’s immediate orbit. Pitt is in there too. SU knows it needs to be able to keep RU and Seton Hall at arm’s length despite some major improvement in recent years from both. And SU can’t let UVA or Pitt come to Albany, of all places, and steal an SU target.
That’s why the Orange is putting all hands on deck, and it’s working. Gertrude says he will “absolutely” visit the Hill. Don’t sleep on Iona, who would normally never be a threat to the Orange. But never underestimate Rick Pitino, so SU needs to clamp down. Gertrude is a rising stock and SU is trying to not let that slip away.