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SU’s Pair Of Top 2023 Targets Have Dominated AAU Play

Credit Elmarko Jackson's Instagram/@elmarkojackson

As we approach the latter half of the summer, it’s become increasingly clear that Syracuse men’s hoops isn’t planning on a spectacular ending to the Class of 2023 recruiting cycle. The Orange used momentum last summer from its first big surprise commitment in Justin Taylor to assemble an increasingly exciting group, but we’re past the point where the first domino should’ve fallen in ‘23. At this point, the Orange are headed towards a class with only a few commits or perhaps just one.

We’ve written about whether or not that’s a good or bad thing and how it’ll play with the stacked incoming Class of ‘22, but one thing is clear: at this point, SU’s Class of ‘23 looks like it may come down to the commitments of two specific players in JP Estrella and Elmarko Jackson.

If you need a refresher, Estrella (a 4-star center from New Hampshire) and Jackson (a 4-star point guard from Connecticut) have been connected to the Orange in different capacities. Estrella has noted his interest in Syracuse, spoken highly about its frequent communication, and has already received an offer – but is also being courted by Duke. For Jackson, ‘Cuse is one of many players for his services, but he’s been on SU’s radar since being “in awe” of an offer from the Orange back in May.

In the meantime, neither player has shown their hand with regard to their commitments. Instead, both Estrella and Jackson have upped the ante with dominant performances in AAU ball.

Estrella’s New England-based Middlesex Magic and Jackson’s Delaware-based WE R1 teams play in the Under Armour Association league. During the league’s last session down in Cartersville, Georgia, the pair showed out in a big way. Estrella notched four games with 13 or more points and a pair of double-doubles, while Jackson scored at least 10 points in five of six contests and put up games with 25 and 24 points. For two players that have considerably raised their stock over the course of this recruiting cycle, dynamic performances like those are only going to help.

Syracuse may now see increased competition for both Estrella and Jackson. While 247Sports paints Estrella’s commitment out to be a two-horse race between SU and Duke, Jackson is the less-heralded recruit – but still one who has recently received offers from heavier hitters like Villanova, Michigan, and defending national champion Kansas. 

If Jim Boeheim and staff are serious and want to bolster the future with a pair of talented Class of ‘23 commits, official visits should be next on the docket for Estrella and Jackson. To shore up the latest recruiting bunch and to take the next step with both players, a trip to The Hill may make all the difference between a continuation or a letdown from last year’s class.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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