One of the major benefits of having a hall of fame head coach like Jim Boeheim is that you’re never short on talented young hoopsters who want to come play for your school.
That’s why there’s no reason for Orange fans to sweat mega-prospect, Tobias Harris’ announcement tonight that he will play his college basketball at Tennessee rather than Syracuse.
Of course, nobody is happy about missing out on ESPN.com’s seventh ranked high school senior. That would be absurd. At the end of the day though, Harris opting for creamsicle orange just opens things up for some other elite high schooler to wear the Syracuse shade of orange.
That may not happen in the 2010 class though. The Orange already have one of the nation’s top recruiting classes, and Jim Boeheim could just tuck that scholarship away for next season’s class. Right now, four high school seniors are committed to play for Syracuse next year, three of whom are listed among ESPN.com’s top 100.
The future Orange stars already committed are third ranked shooting guard, Dion Waiters; second ranked center, Fab Melo; 12th ranked small forward C.J. Fair and 14th ranked center Baye Moussa Keita.
Fair, in particular, is one reason not to worry too much about losing Harris. The 6’7, 196 pound Fair looks like the prototypical Syracuse forward that Boeheim recruits every year. He has long arms, a lot of athleticism and the ability to step out and shoot the three-ball. He could develop into a terrific player that will make Syracuse forget all about Harris.
The rest of Syracuse's 2010 class is equally as solid.
Waiters, a 6’4 combo guard, will have an opportunity to step in and start at the two-guard spot immediately, replacing the graduating Andy Rautins. Waiters will bring a very different game to the position than Rautins does though, with the ability to drive to the basket in addition to being able to knock down a jumper. His size, strength and explosive athleticism is going to make him a very dangerous scorer for the Orange next season.
The big story that had Syracuse in the recruiting spotlight this offseason though, was the commitment of the seven-foot Brazilian center Melo.
Like Waiters, Melo will have a chance to step into a starting role immediately next year, with Syracuse losing Arinze Onuaku after this season. He’ll bring a smooth jumper and an advanced offensive repertoire for a young big man. He’ll also be an intimidating presence at the back of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone.
Coming in somewhat under-the-radar is another big man, Baye Moussa Keita of Oak Hill Academy. With Melo expected to be able to contribute immediately, Keita may find himself buried on the depth chart next year.
Keita will likely redshirt, but he could end up being a great player with time to develop. Since Melo is unlikely to be a four year player, Keita will certainly get his chance somewhere down the road.
These four high school stars make up what is already the fourth ranked recruiting class in the nation for 2010. Tobias Harris would have been a terrific addition, which may have pushed them to number one, but with or without him the Orange won’t be hurting for talent any time soon.