Athletes will tell you that the offseason is crucial to their success as they work to improve deficiencies in their game while honing their strengths. The same can be said for college coaches when it comes to recruiting. The summer is a critical time for both basketball and football staffs to plant seeds, build relationships, and land verbal commitments that will form the foundation of future classes. And just as the mercury rises in July, things are heating up on the recruiting trail for Syracuse and #OrangeNation.
Over the past year, #OrangeNation has grown restless due to a few recruiting misses; no need to relive the Quade Green and Jordan Tucker sagas, though. The latest rejection was 4-star forward Cole Swider, aka Tyler Lydon 2.0. Swider picked former Big East rival Villanova over Syracuse, Duke, and Xavier. Whiffing on Swider once again sent a bunch of Chicken Littles into a frenzy.
The sky ceased to fall once former Ohio State commit Darius Bazley pledged his allegiance to Boeheim’s bunch after an unofficial visit. The 6-foot-9 Ohio native is the type of forward perfectly suited for the 2-3 zone. Scout currently lists the 4-star product as the No. 42 ranked player in the Class of 2018 while Rivals recently bumped him up to No. 25 after awarding him a fifth star.
Syracuse will have at least two open scholarships for the Class of 2018 since Geno Thorpe is the only senior on the team heading into the season. A second scholarship will be restored from NCAA sanctions. A third one will open up if, as expected, Tyus Battle declares for the NBA Draft. Taurean Thompson could potentially join Battle in the draft if the offensively-skilled sophomore blows up due to the Orange’s need for him to shoulder more of the scoring load.
New assistant Allen Griffin was the lead in landing not only Bazley but Thorpe as well. Success like that will help the Orange overcome the loss of recruiting guru Mike Hopkins after the long-time assistant accepted the head coaching gig at Washington this past March.
Next on the 2018 wish list for Syracuse is guard Jalen Carey out of New Jersey. Carey is the type of dynamic talent who, along with East Carolina transfer Elijah Hughes who’s sitting out the upcoming season, will help ease the loss of Battle if the sophomore does depart for the NBA’s greener pastures. And speaking of Battle, his younger brother, Khalif, was just offered a scholarship by the Orange for the Class of 2019. Syracuse certainly figures to be one of the favorites to land Khalif.
Bazley’s commitment reinforces the notion that Syracuse is still a desired landing spot for the most talented high school players. If Carey joins Bazley, then the Orange will have the makings of one of the better classes in the country.
Turning back to the gridiron, Dino Babers and his staff picked up two more commits since last we checked. Willem Froumy is a 6-foot-6, 280 pound offensive tackle from Exeter, NH. Scout ranks him as a 2-star recruit. And since maintaining a constant aerial assault on opposing defensive backfields requires a deep pool of wide receivers, Babers reached into New Jersey to pluck 3-star Taj Harris. Standing at 6-foot-2, Harris is the type of tall receiver the staff desires.
According to Scout’s Mike McAllister, two priority targets visited the campus on Tuesday. Qadir White is a 4-star offensive lineman from the Bronx who would make a nice recruiting bookend with verbal commit Tyrone Sampson. Also visiting is 3-star safety Cameron Jonas out of Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Landing one or both players would be major feathers in the staff’s cap as it looks to continue its recruiting success.
For those #OrangeNation fans still distraught about the Syracuse missing out on March Madness this past season, turn that frown upside down and tune into The Basketball Tournament as Boeheim’s Army looks to win the $2 million pot. Seeded third in the Northeast bracket, Boeheim’s Army survived double OT for a 106-100 win against Gaelnation after drubbing Dubois Dream by 33 points, 99-66, in its opening round contest.
Boeheim’s Army next takes the court on July 20 against Team Fancy. Look for the Army to have somewhat of a home court advantage with the game being in Brooklyn. The downside is that somewhere, Billy Packer and Doug Gottlieb will both be shaking their heads while muttering, “See, even as pros they never leave the state of New York!”
Never a dull moment in #OrangeNation.