Orange Watch: Under current rules, Syracuse players will continue to leave early for NBA

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Malachi Richardson could be the ninth SU player selected in the first round of the NBA Draft after leaving school early, dating back to the 2008 season

Item: With the trade winds blowing lately in the direction that Malachi Richardson will not announce in two weeks or less (May 25 is the deadline) that he plans to return to Syracuse for his sophomore season, all Orange fans can do his shrug their collective shoulders and chalk it up to the nature of the program. Like its ACC counterparts, SU recruits NBA caliber players, who currently after one season without risk to eligibility, can exhibit their skills to scouts/personnel executives and eye guaranteed money in the first round draft slots, or at least a better paycheck than your average recent college graduate can hope to attain.

What if Syracuse had not made the NCAA Tournament? Or, if the Orange didn’t go on an amazing Final Four run of five additional post season games?

Would Malachi Richardson have been as hot a draft prospect in an overall short amount of time (37 collegiate games) as he’s turned out to be in the eyes of the NBA, with the combine invite (being held Wednesday through Sunday this week in Chicago) and opportunities to try out for individual teams, once he declared for the draft without signing with an agent?

Richardson’s star blew up surrounding his 21 point second half explosion in the epic comeback win over Virginia, a win for the ages to earn the school’s sixth Final Four trip and the fifth for Jim Boeheim.

» Related: 25 years of NCAA Tournament 2-15 seed upsets

The unforgettable image of Richardson celebrating one of his crucial three point shots versus the Cavaliers by flashing the ‘3 goggles” look with his hands and fingers around each eye has already earned its place in SU hoops lore, and will be our lasting image of his likely one year Orange career.

The revised rule allowing a top college prospect to dip his toes into the sometimes choppy waves of NBA player personnel evaluations, without risking NCAA eligibility by not signing with an agent, will necessitate that not only Boeheim go out with a bang on the recruiting front, but Mike Hopkins and his staff continue the annual signing of potential NBA caliber players, because there’s always going to be roster turnover.

In fact, next year’s Orange will likely only have two starters (Dejaun Coleman, Tyler Roberson) returning come November, and as many as four newcomers (Paschal Chukwu, John Gillon, Tyrus Battle, Matthew Moyer) who could end up making significant contributions at various points of the 2016-17 season.

From Donte Green, Jonny Flynn and Wesley Johnson between 2008-10, followed by Dion Waiters, Fab Melo, Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis, Chris McCullough and now counting Malachi Richardson from 2011-present, that’s nine first-round picks leaving the ‘Cuse early in the last nine seasons.

That’s a trend not going away anytime soon.

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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