In the midst of a September slate that features Syracuse Football starting 2-0 for the first time since 2018, and a chance to make it 4-0 with Purdue and Virginia heading to the Dome on back-to-back weekends, the focus is most likely shifted off of Jim Boeheim’s recruitment trail. But let’s not overlook it, because at this time last year, many were etching the 2022 class as the best Boeheim has ever had, while shoving football in the rear view mirror. All of this is to say that us here at the Fizz aren’t closing up shop on possible 2023 hoops commits, especially with a big time recruit on his way to Central New York in the coming days. That’s four-star guard Mike Williams.
With guards Joe Girard and Symir Torrence taking part in their senior years in a couple months, it’s pivotal that the Orange keep an eye out for potent playmakers in the class of 2023. Luckily for SU, the lore of Syracuse has enough proof of guard success to gravitate a big time recruit to the snowy confines of CNY. That coupled with a few players soon on their merry way means an influx of open playing time. That’s where Williams fits into the picture.
After SU lost out on Reid Ducharme, Dior Johnson, and other formidable perimeter players, landing a highly-skilled, dual-threat ball handler is the exact remedy this 2023 recruiting class needs.
Williams is in his senior year at the Bishop Walsh School, a prep school that offers high level academics and athletics in the state of Maryland. The reason the 6’2 guard’s school matters is the competition it schedules. Bishop Walsh has featured on ESPN and in showcases, which takes away ample amounts of pressure when transitioning to the college game. Plus, Williams is a late bloomer, leapfrogging nearly 90 spots in the last two months into 247 Sports’ top 100 players in the class of 2023 (#96). This is a testament to the Maryland native’s ability to adapt and grow with time and reps, a keystone to successful three- to four-year weapons at Syracuse.
Now a deeper dive into his skill level. Williams plays with nimble feet and ferocious fight. The shooting guard fights on every play, developing a crisp pull up jumper to complement his speed to the hoop and fast decision making at the rim. This bodes well in tight game situations as well as transition opportunities that’ll need to turn into points in a conference as stout as the ACC. The four-star plays low to the ground and true to his height, which makes him a threat on both ends of the ball, reading passes and when on offense, how the defense is shifting. If all of this lingo is confusing, Williams plays both ends of the ball really well and has a great basketball IQ in regard to the lack of second guessing instilled in his game.
The only concern with Williams is his size. As seen by the plethora of Syracuse fanatics, the ‘Cuse often loses the weight battle and ultimately the game because of it, but a stark positive in Mike’s game is his shot-making ability. With how the Orange play, relying heavily on one-on-one penetration and kick-outs for open threes, it is integral that their guards shoot routinely above 40% from the field. If Williams continues to play with ferocity, like Joe Girard does on occasion, and the reason Judah Mintz was recruited so hard by Syracuse, then it’ll mitigate his weight and size discrepancy that either severely hurts or doesn’t impact a freshman on the biggest stage.
Another issue for the Orange is how many teams are garnering the four-star’s attention. Although Williams is scheduled to visit the Salt City in four days, plenty of other programs are littered on his ledger.
Should SU fans worry about the competition or be elated that they are in the running for a big time, highly-sought after recruit? The early sentiment would say to veer toward the former because when other successful programs have vied for the same recruit, or at least recent history has shown, those other schools have won the recruiting battle. It’s also worth noting to not expect Williams to decide his final destination for a good amount of time, with plenty of programs adding their names to his laundry list as recent as three weeks ago.
All that needs to be stressed is if Syracuse puts together a great visit, and the uber-talented Williams does choose the Orange, then SU is off the recruiting hot seat for 2023.