Syracuse basketball made its first monumental decision shortly after the end of the 2023 season, moving on from Jim Boeheim and progressing into the Red Autry tenure. There are still a couple of key turning points this offseason, and SU fans will have their ears to the ground awaiting these choices.
It all comes down to stay or go. We’ve already discussed Judah Mintz. The rising sophomore point guard would be the number one option on next year’s team, and pairing him with JJ Starling would give the ‘Cuse an all-ACC freshman backcourt. Pro money is tantalizing, and there are other schools who are in the NCAA Tournament right now that would love to have his services next year, but the best move would be coming back to the hill. However, what about Syracuse’s big man? Jesse Edwards went through senior day ceremonies against Wake Forest, but still has a year of eligibility remaining.
What if Edwards Leaves?
Frankly, SU fans should be extremely surprised if Edwards decides to flee the coop. There’s nothing out there that says he’s a surefire NBA player, and even though the Dutchman could be a tenured veteran in the Euroleague, that’s not the goal of anyone who comes to the U.S. to hoop. Jim Boeheim said, “Jesse improved more than any player I’ve had” in his 47-year tenure, but Edwards still has a long way to go. He doesn’t have many skills needed in the NBA, including a consistent post game, the ability to play without fouling or any semblance of a jump shot.
Edwards leaving also means that Syracuse would have to hit the transfer portal. The ‘Cuse would have Mounir Hima, Peter Carey and William Patterson as their centers, which would give Autry a whole lot of size, but less than ideal experience down low. If man-to-man becomes a more prominent feature of the Orange defensive system, the young bigs might get torched on switches. A veteran presence is extremely necessary on next year’s team. If it’s not Edwards, then it needs to be someone else.
What if Edwards Stays?
He’s an obvious starter if he returns, along with an all-ACC candidate, and the comeback saves Coach Autry a transfer portal problem. Another positive for Edwards is he could avoid Armando Bacot, who also has another year of eligibility, but is probably on the way out after UNC’s disastrous finish to the season. Jesse could lead the ACC in field goal percentage and blocks (again) and prove to the doubters that he is an NBA player.