After months of quiet, uncertainty, and mystery from the Syracuse coaching staff, the program finally seems to have found some of its main high school recruiting targets in the upcoming class. There are a plethora of names that Boeheim and company have handed out offers to, but there are a couple they are locking in on, and one who might be the cream of the crop.
That would be 6’11 center JP Estrella, who is attending Brewster Academy this year, which is no secret to the Orange, as many of their former players have played high school ball there including Buddy Boeheim. Estrella seemed like a lock to go to Jon Scheyer and Duke a couple of weeks ago, but recently canceled his visit there, and has just two upcoming visits, to Iowa this weekend, and Syracuse the next.
Estrella is rated the 54th overall prospect in the 2023 class according to the 247 Sports composite rankings. Originally from Maine, he only weighs in at 210 pounds, but that’s something Syracuse coaches are used to with their big men. The real question is, why is he the number one target for SU when they already have three centers on the roster?
It’s a pretty simple nut to crack. First of all, Jesse Edwards is entering his senior season at SU, he can play an extra year because of COVID and the NCAA granting all athletes an extra year, but he may not take that option and could be out the door after this season.
Second, the other two centers are Mounir Hima and Peter Carey. Hima played limited minutes at Dusquene before coming to Syracuse, so he will surely need to time develop into a rotation player. Carey also missed a lot of time in high school with injuries, so he will need time as well.
A player like Estrella posts a lot more potential and already has extreme talent over both of these options, especially if Edwards is gone. There’s also the transfer portal, which any of these guys could utilize, as Boeheim has done over the last two offseasons.
In a hypothetical world, if Estrella were to come to Syracuse with Hima and Carey on the roster, it could work similarly to how Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa-Keita did in the early 2010s. Keita was a year ahead of Christmas, but because of Christmas’ high pedigree, he started over Keita every year, yet they each still played every night on a rotational basis.
If Boeheim and company want to get Estrella in Orange, they might have to promise him a starting role in 2023, but can not alienate the centers already on the roster. The center position has been a struggle for the Orange from when Christmas left until Edwards’ breakout last season. Maybe that momentum can continue if Estrella likes what he sees on the hill next weekend, and pledges to Syracuse.