Arguably the busiest athletic time of the year is here in Central New York, as the crossover between basketball and football has arrived. Dino Babers’ squad, as is well-documented here on The Fizz, has been on the struggle bus of late, losing four games in a row by over 100 points combined. The Orange are looking to halt that Friday night in the Dome against arguably their biggest football rival, Boston College, a team they’ve beaten two years in a row.
For Adrian Autry, his squad has completed two exhibition games, and it’s been anything but smooth. After it was announced before last Friday’s contest that Chance Westry had a procedure and will miss a decent chunk of the season after getting hurt in practice, Judah Mintz did not play against Daemen for “precautionary reasons”, and Maliq Brown left the game early with a groin injury.
Then, on Wednesday against the College of St. Rose, Mintz returned, but Benny Williams was suspended for violating team rules and Brown was held out also for “precautionary reasons”. That eliminated a lot of size for the Orange on the wing, but it didn’t end up mattering in the outcome as SU cruised to a 25-point win.
So, all this is to say that Autry has a lot of things to juggle going into his first regular season game as Syracuse head coach. In the months before the season ramped up, the head man and his assistants were able to host recruits on campus, but that has faded throughout October (aside from Kiyan Anthony) and definitely will into November and December. When the Orange are playing big ACC games in January and February that might change (like with Elijah Moore last year), but for the most part recruiting is on the backburner.
With just two players committed for the class of 2024, and after bringing in only one player from high school in the class of 2023 (William Patterson), a trend is starting to emerge for the size of class Autry wants to bring in from the high school ranks. There are very few players the Orage are still involved within the current senior class, and especially with a lot of underclassmen and players with remaining eligibility on this year’s roster, he doesn’t have to add four or five guys to the program.
But, with the transfer portal and NIL, that can be a double-edged sword for SU. Autry can fill holes and needs as he did with JJ Starling (Joe Girard III) and Naheem McLeod (Jesse Edwards). Plus, adding depth with Chance Westry and Kyle Cuffe (Symir Torrence). If players on this year’s team depart to another school, it’s a lot easier to fill their spots via the portal than via high school players, as Autry proved last off-season.
By no means would it be a surprise if Autry added one or two more players to the class of Moore and Donnie Freeman, but at this point, it does not seem like there is much public momentum that we know of to indicate that to be a likely possibility. Early in his tenure, Autry seems destined to continue using the transfer portal to add talent to his roster, and over time, as he’s building a sustainable winner, that’s where high school prospects come back into play, but it might just take a little bit of time.