College sports as we know them are changing. NIL, player empowerment, and the lack of a redshirt year for transfers have completely reshaped the sport’s landscape. Syracuse has seen it both ways; missing out on top recruits to schools that have more NIL incentives to offer, but picking up a former McDonald’s All-American in the transfer portal just a few weeks ago. All of that said, the Miami Men’s Basketball team has made a run to the Final Four with players who have boatloads of NIL money, many of whom came through the transfer portal. Is that what college sports are shifting to?
Nowadays, recruits are decommitting and picking a new home in the blink of an eye, near the level of seasoned collegiate athletes. Just ask the Providence Friars Men’s Basketball team, who, in no small part because of Ed Cooley’s move, lost two recruits to Georgetown on Tuesday. Ring a bell? It should. Dino Babers thought his future beyond Garrett Shrader was set with the highly-touted LaNorris Sellers. However, he flipped his commitment to South Carolina. If you need more on why you can’t fully trust high school players to build your future, SU Men’s Hoops has a grand total of one high school senior committed.
Now let’s look at the success transfers have had in Central New York and elsewhere. Garrett Shrader has blossomed into a solid Power Five QB at Syracuse. Cole Swider rediscovered his game and is currently on an NBA roster. Outside of CNY, Jalen Hurts transferred from Alabama to Oklahoma and was just a starting quarterback in the Super Bowl. And Jim Larrañaga’s Miami Hurricanes boast Nijel Pack, Jordan Miller, and Norchad Omier, none of whom began their collegiate careers in Coral Gables. There is a proven recipe of success for transfers inside and outside of Syracuse.
So, is the grand point here that John Wildhack and all of SU brass should flip the focus to the transfer portal as opposed to high school kids? No, because the transfer portal is just as if not more uncertain than recruiting high schoolers. But there is a common denominator. The best teams in the country have excelled in one area or the other. If you want to look at ACC basketball, Duke won the conference tournament and Miami advanced the furthest in March Madness. Well, the Blue Devils dominate recruiting year in and year out and the Hurricanes have taken college basketball by storm with how they’ve utilized NIL and the transfer portal.
The point of this is that the entirety of Syracuse Athletics needs to find what it excels at and rock with it. Currently, it would appear as though Dino Babers and Adrian Autry among others are stuck in no man’s land; not really leaning one way or the other. The sooner that changes, the better.