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BB Recruiting

Adrian Autry’s Youth Movement Has Arrived Earlier Than Expected

When Syracuse’s season ended at the ACC Tournament in March, no one knew how the offseason would unfold. Certainly, no one knew how the next three days would unfold, with Jim Boeheim’s retirement and Adrian Autry taking over as head coach of SU. With continuity in the coaching staff considering the returns of Gerry McNamara and Allen Griffin, plus almost immediately bringing in J.J. Starling as a transfer from Notre Dame, it seemed as though the Orange were bringing back all of their important players from last season, and adding more.

Then, Judah Mintz declared for the NBA Draft while maintaining his eligibility. Joe Girard III followed that by doing the same but also entering the transfer portal. Finally, the third domino fell this week, with Jesse Edwards putting his name into the portal as well. Those three players made up nearly the entirety of Syracuse’s offense last season and were the three best players on a team that missed the postseason entirely.

Syracuse brings back a lot of young players, including Benny Williams, the most experienced player on the roster as a junior, plus the entire six-man freshmen class (outside of Mintz) from 2022. Combined with Starling, Mounir Hima, and incoming freshman center William Patterson, the Orange have the talent, but it’s young and still relatively inexperienced. With its top three players from last year all potentially on the move, Syracuse is scouring the portal for replacements, especially at center.

No matter who the Orange add and bring in, it’s clear Autry’s influence over this roster is clear. He may have wanted to keep things consistent for one year and then blow it up, but the fact that he was able to get all of the freshmen to stay (outside of Mintz), plus Williams, is a testament to Autry’s recruitment of them, and wanting a foundation for that program he is trying to jumpstart. It’s not an accident that the players who stayed all have multiple years of eligibility left, and that’s because Autry is trying to build something sustainable, and this is the way how.

Without Edwards especially, 2023-24 might not go as well as Syracuse had hoped, but it could be a stepping stone back to where SU wants to go because of the youth movement within the roster. The Orange reportedly had a Zoom meeting with Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson this week, and that would be the biggest upgrade you could get out of the portal. He wouldn’t fit the youth movement criteria, but you’ll take his talents any day.

It’s more likely the Orange settle for a lesser-known player to fill the void at center, and then at guard as well considering Mintz stays in the draft. But, as the roster currently stands, Autry is having to make it more than he likely predicted, and that’s okay. This is gaining experience in real time for the new head coach, and something that will be used in future years. If the players Autry and his staff bring out of the portal match the youth movement, that’s great, but even if they don’t, it shouldn’t be discounted what the returning members of this team look like, and why they decided to stay.

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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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