The offseason has nearly trumped the end of season storylines that continue to surface for ‘Cuse men’s hoops. A four-game losing stretch, plus an early exit in the ACC tournament didn’t make as many headlines as Jim Boehiem’s retirement, Adrian Autry’s promotion, JJ Starling transferring to the Orange and Symir Torrence entering the transfer portal. Those last two should have SU fans thinking about the future. The portal has already provided a five star guard for Syracuse, and persuaded a well-oiled guard in Torrence away from CNY, so what does that mean for SU’s playmakers moving forward.
Of course the decision of Joe Girard still looms. If he chooses to come back for his fifth year, that could sway guards away from transferring to Syracuse and play a huge role in Judah Mintz’s decision to either return for his sophomore season or take his talents either to the next level or a different program. These are scenarios that need to surface among the SU community. With the immediacy of the portal, one decision is an automatic snowball effect. So let’s break down the need-to-know of the offseason for Syracuse basketball.
What if Mintz Leaves?
There’s a high chance Syracuse’s star freshman chooses a different destination next season. NBA mock drafts have Mintz landing in either the second round or outside the 60 picks as an undrafted free agent. Others speculate his desire to level up and transfer to a school that’ll ensure an NCAA tourney berth. Not only is Mintz’s absence an issue if he leaves, due to the Maryland native ranking top 10 in the country among freshman in scoring, coming in second for ACC freshman of the year and landing on the All-ACC freshman team, it creates gaps in other areas.
Without Mintz, Notre Dame transfer JJ Starling takes over the offense, rather than playing two-guard in SU’s offense. Who is his backcourt partner? It could be Girard, even though the 1500-point scorer’s decision is still up in the air, but if he chooses the professional route, then Syracuse can either make Justin Taylor a two-guard or search for another experienced playmaker in the portal.
What if Mintz stays?
Mintz staying has both positive and adverse effects, all dependent on Girard’s choice. If the Glens Falls native comes back for his fifth year and Judah stays in Central New York for his sophomore season, Starling’s transfer creates a backlog at the guard position. All three deserve to start, but it’s hard to win with three starters standing 6’4 or lower. Plus, it would be hard to convince Mintz, Girard or Starling to come off the bench with a smile on their face.
If Girard leaves, and Mintz stays, then Syracuse is very dangerous. That is no sleight to JG3, but a backcourt of two All-ACC freshman team members from this past season, both who can play make, create their own shot, and play serviceable defense, is a recipe for success. It would ease any pressure on the coaching staff to recruit another guard or find a gem in the portal too. This is probably the best scenario, even though Girard’s offense would be a net positive.
All this is to say questions surrounding Mintz’s future are valid. It might seem like a speculative debate, but with how the last two seasons have gone for the Orange, the offseason might be SU’s most important asset.