On Tuesday morning, Adrian Autry tweeted a picture of a group of his players gathered for dinner and to watch the national championship game on Monday night between Connecticut and San Diego State. The Huskies ended up winning comfortably, as they did all tournament, but from a Syracuse perspective, maybe the most interesting part of the revelation that the team watched the game is who was at the watch party, and who was not.
Who Was There
Players of note at the watch party and in the picture via Autry’s account include from left to right: Quadir Copeland, Chris Bell (who announced his intentions to return last week), Jesse Edwards (eyeball emoji!!), Justin Taylor, Peter Carey, Maliq Brown, and Mounir Hima. A very interesting group. Of those players, we have not heard explicitly from Taylor, Copeland, Brown, or Hima about returning via a team announcement like Bell or Benny Williams last week, but at this point, the assumption has to be they’re coming back.
The notable player here is Edwards. This picture is not everything, but it’s certainly something. The Hunter Dickinson train was getting prepared to leave the station after it was reported Syracuse reached out to the Michigan transfer and his connections to new assistant coach Brenden Straughn. But, then Maryland hired his high school coach from Dematha and that seems to be that. So, there’s still a gaping hole at the starting center position for Edwrads to reclaim if he chooses to use another year of eligibility.
The realistic or pessimistic outlook on Jesse’s attendance at the event is that he’s still a student, and is finishing out his degree before graduation in May while also training for whatever he decides to do next. But, if he were to turn professional, it would be to his benefit to start exclusively training without having to focus on school work as quickly as possible. So, if he’s still hanging around, then it would seem like he might be leaning toward coming back, which would be a massive boost to SU’s chances of getting back to the NCAA Tournament.
Autry, Gerry McNamara, and Allen Griffin are all present as well, along with a handful of walk-ons and other members of the program. We don’t want to overreact, but it’s important to note this is nothing but a positive sign for Edwards returning.
Who Wasn’t There
Players of note that were not there are Benny Williams (who announced he’s returning last week), Joe Girard III (who entered the NBA Draft and transfer portal), Symir Torrence (transfer portal), and John Bol Ajak (portal). So, nothing unexpected in that realm except for Williams, who likely had some sort of conflict since we know he’s already coming back. If this had occurred before that announcement, then that might have told us something, but it’s nothing to worry about.
No sign of Straughn or J.J. Starling, who are both likely still in the process of their transitions to Syracuse, and that’s nothing to worry about either. They’ll be instrumental members of this program throughout the summer and into the fall when the season gets going.
Overall, it’s a very interesting exercise to see who’s participating in these team bonding events, and how close this group is just a month after the season ended. There’s a lot of chemistry and camaraderie with this team, and that should bode well come next season. Now, the Orange just need to get another guard in the room to round out the roster and bring Edwards back, and if this photo is any indication, there’s good news on the way.