The post-Jim Boeheim era is less than a week fresh, but it has already delivered in a monumental way. Former five-star recruit and McDonald’s All American JJ Starling is heading home, where he grew up in Baldwinsville, to join SU after one season at Notre Dame. In other words, the Adrian Autry reign is here.
After taking lead of Starling’s recruitment last year, Autry’s role as the Orange’s lead recruiter, and now head coach, works its magic just days after the transfer portal opened. SU’s hometown tug on the CNY native seemed to be trending upward last year when the guard kept the Cuse in his top five, along with Duke, Notre Dame, Stanford and Northwestern. But he ultimately chose the Fighting Irish. After averaging over 11 points per game last season for ND, amid the news that longtime Irish head coach Mike Brey would retire at the end of the year, Starling’s services ended up in the portal, and Autry’s role as a part of Syracuse has paid dividends just one season after the shock of losing the five star to another ACC program.
Starling joins fellow ’22-’23 all-freshman team member Judah Mintz (barring his choice to transfer or head to the NBA draft), plus a bevy of young talent that encourage a fast-paced offense, one that attracted the former Notre Dame guard back to Central New York. He also brings a lot of important intangibles to an Orange team that missed consistency this past season. Starling shot over 42% from the field and made four or more field goals in 20 of the 28 games he played.
It also provides insurance for possible departures entering next season, depending on how Coach Autry and the rest of the staff plays Justin Taylor. If the coaches are comfortable playing Taylor at the two-guard slot, then the Orange can only ensure, at most, two “1 or 2” guards for next season (Mintz and possibly Taylor), with the possible exits of Joe Girard and Symir Torrence (both with fifth year options). So Starling adds much needed guard depth to a rather forward-heavy team.
Now it also creates a logjam with minutes, knowing that Torrence, Girard and Jesse Edwards could come back, along with the freshman who saw plenty of time last year, and Benny Williams. But that’s a worry Cuse can save for the future because every reaction should be a positive one when landing a former top 30 recruit who averaged double figures as a freshman in the ACC last season.