It’s been well-documented that Syracuse has no future recruits committed to playing for the program beyond this season. Yes, the Orange have a bevy of young players on the team right now, but there’s always turnover in the offseason. Whether through the transfer portal, NBA Draft, or graduation, SU will lose players.
So, as the Orange still search for ways to fortify the roster into the future, let’s consider which position should be at the forefront of the pursuit. As it currently stands, there is a clear divide in age on the Syracuse roster. Joe Girard III, Jesse Edwards, Symir Torrence, and John Bol Ajak are all in their fourth year playing college basketball.
The rest of the roster, Benny Williams, Mounir Hima, and all the freshmen are either in their first or second season at the collegiate level. So, when you look at the freshmen, it’s inevitable someone or multiple players are going to transfer. There are two guards, three forwards, and a center all in that class, plus Williams as a forward and Hima as a center.
Plus, Judah Mintz is the best player in the class and on the team, and he’s a guard. So, it’s pretty clear where this is leading to. Syracuse needs to prioritize the guard position in recruiting. Guards win championships, and for the Orange to get back to even close to championship level, they need to recruit more guards like Mintz.
Think about great Syracuse teams of the past or ones that got far in the NCAA Tournament. The key was great guard play, usually along with a dominant scoring forward. Think in the 1980s, Pearl Washington into Sherman Douglas. Then in the ‘90s, Adrian Autry, Jason Hart, and others directed the ship. In the 2000s, Gerry McNamara and Jonny Flynn, and then into the 2010s of Scoop Jardine, Michael Carter-Williams, and others. Not to mention arguably the greatest player in program history, Dave Bing.
You get the point. Guard play takes you as far as you can go, and when you have good, if not great guards, then you usually go far. So, Syracuse should be pursuing every avenue it can take to get more young guards in the building to develop and get them ready to lead SU into a new era, likely without Jim Boeheim.
The fact that this team has no one pledged to play for them beyond this year is a huge indictment on Boeheim and his age and recruiting being used against him. When Boeheim moves on, it’s likely one of his assistants (Autry or McNamara) will take over. What position did they play for Boeheim? Go figure.
Guards are essential to building a sustainable program in college basketball. Turnover among rosters is rampant, but for the Orange to get back to where they once were, they need to start getting more high-level guards like Judah Mintz in the building and keeping them, unlike Kadary Richmond.