The 2014-15 Syracuse basketball season hasn't even started yet, but there is already buzz about the potential of the 2015-16 Orange team.
Over the summer, head coach Jim Boeheim said his 2015 recruiting class is his best ever. Boeheim already has four commits in the ESPN 100, and Boeheim said, "We're getting another, but I can't talk about that." The four players Boeheim already has locked up are Malachi Richardson, Moustapha Diagne, Tyler Lydon and Franklin Howard.
Each player is rated as a 4-star prospect by both ESPN and 247Sports. In addition, each player is in the Top 75 of the ESPN 100, with Richardson the highest-ranked player at No. 19. So yeah, it's a pretty strong class already.
But Boeheim says he will be landing another player, which would make this class even better. As it stands right now, the class is already impressive, but one player could really put it over the top.
Thomas Bryant is a 5-star player, according to both ESPN and 247Sports, and he seems to be the most likely candidate to land in Syracuse next fall. Bryant is a hometown kid; he hails from nearby Rochester and was a high school teammate of current Syracuse center Chinonso Obokoh.
Landing Bryant would be the cherry on top of an already appetizing recruiting sundae. By 2015, the Orange will be in desperate need of big men. Rakeem Christmas is in his last year, DaJuan Coleman is still a question mark and Obokoh is unproven.
Bryant is just the player Boeheim needs to bolster his front line. The 6'10" center is skilled around the basket, and he even shows a decent-looking jump shot. Suiting him up next to Richardson, Trevor Cooney and the rest of Syracuse's returning players could provide a big boost to the offense.
Speaking of Richardson, he looks like he can be an immediate contributor for the Orange. With or without Bryant, Richardson is the other player who can make the 2015 class.
First of all, Richardson's flat-top game is on point. But Richardson's coiffure isn't the only impressive aspect of the 6'6" swingman.
One thing that immediately jumps out: Richardson can fill it up. He can score from the three-point line and get to the rim, and his size can be a problem if he is checked by an opposing guard. He can give Cooney a much-needed running mate on the perimeter, and he shapes up to be a more versatile shooter than Cooney is.
Most of Cooney's game is predicated on spotting up, catching and shooting. Perhaps that had something to do with the other featured offensive players around him, but Cooney has yet to create his own shot consistently. Richardson can spot up, but he can also get his shot off the dribble or coming off a screen.
The 2015-16 Orange roster is going to be loaded. If all of this year's players who are eligible to return do so, Boeheim can go 10 deep with several upperclassmen and only two sophomores (Kaleb Joseph and Chris McCullough, should they both return).
So there may not be a truckload of minutes for Richardson or Bryant (if he chooses Syracuse). But if Syracuse struggles offensively again this year, the door will be open for Richardson to come in and light it up early.