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BB Recruiting

SU Hoops Officially Cashing In On “Autry Effect”, Transfer Portal

Credit Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Nearly a week after Jim Boeheim’s departure, things look just a little bit peachier for the Orange. Boeheim recently clarified that his departure had some logistical tangles, but otherwise was what he wanted. If you take Boeheim at his word, his press conference on March 10th cleared up some of the fraught feelings that had smoldered for a few days. Cut and dry it, Adrian Autry is the new men’s basketball head coach with no additional baggage.

That’s all well and good, but SU’s new reality is probably sinking in right about now. The program faces perennial expectations of excellence, but must now meet that bar without its 47-year coaching veteran manning the sideline. For better or worse, Autry does have a tool at his disposal to keep the team competitive or attract a pool of talent: the transfer portal.

Once the pandemic forced the NCAA’s hand in 2021 to allow athletes to transfer without a redshirt or sit-out period, Boeheim always kept the concept at arm’s length. SU’s longtime head man begrudgingly treated the portal like a system run amok during his last two seasons, and Syracuse had only limited efforts to woo players (and success) using his halfhearted approach. Any current coach legitimately trying to win must adapt to it, like it or not.

For his part, Adrian Autry has already seen his team reshaped over the past week or so – out are bench pieces in John Bol Ajak and Symir Torrence, while former Notre Dame guard J.J. Starling is in. The latter talent is a Baldwinsville, NY native coming off a solid but unspectacular freshman campaign who provides insurance if either Judah Mintz or Joe Girard (or both) depart the team.

Starling’s talent as a former 5-star recruit offers an exciting appetizer for what may await Syracuse in its new era. Starling played fine ball on a bad Notre Dame team but could unlock his highly-coveted potential in a new environment. He chose to try to do so at Syracuse. That factor is a win for Autry, who can use the “fresh start” card and existing talent to entice players. While he coached, Boeheim himself was a huge, imposing factor for both recruits and transfers alike; some players likely saw Boeheim as a plus while others probably avoided him altogether. With Autry (a known quantity in the recruiting realm), Boeheim’s colossus as a figure is gone, SU has a new draw for talent like Starling: come and help jumpstart a new era of Orange basketball. 

According to reports, Autry and his staff are already hard at work on the recruiting trail, and for good reason. Syracuse has just a single commit in each of its next two classes. In the meantime, the transfer portal is ripe for the picking. Other pieces like TCU center Eddie Lampkin, Georgetown guard Primo Spears, former 5-star Illinois guard Skyy Clark, and Temple star Khalif Battle all stand as talented, high-upside players in the portal. If Syracuse wants to make a splash and get back into tournament conversations, it would be well-advised to take a swing at any one of them (or others) to supplant an already-solid roster.

It’ll take more than just big moves in the portal for Autry to succeed in Year 1. He must recruit well, develop Syracuse’s Class of 2022 pieces into more than just role players, and deal with intense scrutiny while he fills Boeheim’s gargantuan shoes. Fortunately for Autry, there’s a portal of talent within reach – provided he takes early steps to gain an advantage.

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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