The Syracuse men’s basketball program has already received high praise for its commitments from the 2014 recruiting class.
According to ESPN.com, Syracuse now has the No. 4 recruiting class in the nation, and that’s with only two high schoolers committing to coach Jim Boeheim’s program.
Before the Orange nation starts popping open the champagne, it is worth noting that new conference foe North Carolina is listed as the top recruiting class for 2014 with three commits.
For now, however, we will concentrate on the good.
Since 2000, Michael Carter-Williams, Dion Waiters, Wesley Johnson, Jonny Flynn, Carmelo Anthony and Etan Thomas have all been lottery picks in the NBA draft, providing good name recognition for the Syracuse brand.
With Anthony being the only bona fide star of that group, Boeheim has also shown that he can get his players to the next level, regardless of their star power. This has been illustrated by the fact that Hakim Warrick, Andy Rautins, Demetris Nichols, Fab Melo, Kris Joseph, Damone Brown, Jason Hart and Donté Greene have all been drafted in that same time period.
Syracuse’s return to national prominence after a few ho-hum years following the 2003 championship run—fueled by stellar recruiting—has kept the Orange high in the rankings, which leads to continued media coverage, which then leads to more stellar recruiting.
Here’s a look at who is committed to the Orange for 2014, along with one other who may commit to the Orange and what a peak performance from each would look like.
Bronx product Chris McCullough has the potential of being the big man Syracuse has been waiting for since the early 1990s.
At 6’10” and 220 pounds, McCullough is a five-star recruit with five-tool talent.
McCullough possesses great footwork, can handle the ball, is an incredible rebounder, can pass from the block, and he even has a decent shot. Add that to his strength, and Syracuse has the makings of a potential superstar.
Assuming they are still in school, Rakeem Christmas and DaJuan Coleman, both 6’9”, would form a formidable trio with McCullough in the frontcourt.
Also assuming that Tyler Ennis does not bolt for the NBA after this season, the best-case scenario for Syracuse is a realistic chance at a national title. This would be contingent upon Coleman staying healthy and Ennis developing as a court general.
If this happens, the Orange would have mass along the baseline to allow its guards to move freely. And if McCullough is as good as advertised, Syracuse’s window of opportunity with him could be very short.
Best-case talent comparison: Derrick Coleman
At one point, four-star point guard Kaleb Joseph narrowed his school choices down to three: Providence, West Virginia and Syracuse.
Joseph, a New Hampshire product, went with his dream school after a mid-August trip to the Syracuse campus and announced, via Twitter: “I have officially decided to chase my dreams at Syracuse University and play for the hall of fame coach Jim Boeheim.”
At 6’3”, Joseph has good size and length, and he is a great ball handler. His quickness, combined with his shooting ability, will make him a difficult matchup for defenders, but his exact role is yet to be known.
Joseph could be the understudy to Tyler Ennis, or he could be thrust into the starting position should Ennis leave for the NBA.
The best-case scenario for Syracuse would be that Ennis stays on for his sophomore year and allows Joseph to blossom without the pressure of being the lone point guard. Those two, combined with the potential depth at the forward spots, would put Syracuse on a very short list of national title contenders.
Best-case talent comparison: Jonny Flynn
Isaiah Whitehead is a 6’4” Brooklyn product who is advertised as a combo-guard.
His greatest strength is as a scorer, and he should step in as a great complement to Ennis (again, if he stays) and fellow classmate Kaleb Joseph.
Best-case talent comparison: Adrian Autry