Syracuse Basketball: Incoming Recruits Will Fuel Successful 2014 Tournament Run

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2013

Photo courtesy of
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Fear not, Syracuse fans, for your Orange will be dancing again next season.

After a disheartening 61-56 loss to the Michigan Wolverines, Jim Boeheim and his team are left to pick up the pieces of what was a successful tournament run undone by Mitch McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr. Since there's no time to sit and smell the roses in college basketball, the focus almost immediately goes to next season.

The Orange should be able to mount yet another NCAA tournament run on the strength of their returning players and a strong recruiting class.

Michael Carter-Williams is the biggest variable this offseason. He's projected by many experts as a lottery pick, but his performance in the Final Four did nothing to convince NBA scouts that he has the offensive game to excel in the league.

Despite his high standing already, he might actually be better off spending another year at Syracuse. It's unlikely, and you can't begrudge Carter-Williams for jumping at the chance of being a high pick this summer. Boeheim certainly shouldn't be planning on his return.

James Southerland and Brandon Triche are graduating, and they represent quite a loss both in terms of production and leadership. Triche was the second-leading scorer on the team, at 13.6 points a game, with Southerland right behind him with 13.3 points.

C.J. Fair was the team's leading scorer and rebounder. Getting Fair to return would be huge for Boeheim.

Fair should be back for next season because right now he's not highly regarded by NBA scouts. Barring a sea change, it would be a mistake to skip his final season because he's probably only looking at a late first-round, maybe even second-round pick.

Aside from this past season's key players, the 2013 recruiting class is headlined by Tyler Ennis.

Should MCW leave, Orange fans can feel comforted knowing Ennis will be able to step in and become the floor general. Ranked 29th on 247Sports' composite rankings, Ennis is a very good ball-handler and generally will make very good decisions on the court. Like Carter-Williams, he's not an offensive juggernaut, but he is still good enough to lead Syracuse on the floor.

Right behind him is Tyler Roberson, ranked 33rd. Roberson is a pretty good offensive threat and very athletic for his size. At 6'8", his inside game is still improving a bit. By midseason, his game will be flourishing under Boeheim.

Although the level of talent coming into Syracuse isn't the best in the country, Boeheim has proven time and again that he is adept at getting the most out of his players. He doesn't need blue-chip recruits at every position in order to be successful. Plus, with his 2-3 zone, you always know the Orange will be defensively strong.

Syracuse heading to the ACC might actually be a good thing when you consider how weak the conference was this season. The Big East is always a physical grind during the regular season, and you have to wonder how much the style of play affects the teams down the stretch and in postseason tournaments.

There are plenty of reasons to look forward to Orange basketball next season, so enjoy the trip to the Final Four and start planning for another deep run next season.