It was the biggest news that Syracuse basketball had seen in a long time.
In the beginning of February, 2022 five-star prospect Dior Johnson verbally committed to Syracuse. The flashy 6-foot-2 guard became the biggest prospect for the Orange since Carmelo Anthony.
But in recent times since the commitment, there has been growing concern over whether Johnson will actually ever suit up for the Orange given the long time between the commitment his arrival on campus.
Originally when he committed, Johnson came out with a powerful statement: “I’ll bring in more recruits.”
And for a while it seemed that this would be the case. In the summer of 2020, Johnson announced that he would team up with 2022 five-star guard Zion Cruz at Oak Hill Academy, who is also a high-priority target for SU.
Since then, Johnson suffered a stress fracture in his right foot, and reportedly left Oak Hill. But in the past few weeks there was still a possibility that Johnson could return to the prep school for the season if his recovery went well.
That door is shut.
Johnson’s former coach at Oak Hill, Steve Smith, told Syracuse.com’s Mike Waters earlier in the week that Johnson will not be allowed to re-enroll. Cruz also left the program and transferred to The Patrick School in Hillside, NJ.
The recent news is not good for Syracuse. Johnson has yet to enroll at any other school, which raises questions about his academic eligibility. Several schools have reportedly reached out to Johnson, but he has not engaged with any of them.
Waters’ report said there was “growing concern” among the Syracuse coaching staff that his academics are not in order.
Another concern is Johnson’s indecisiveness on staying in one place as he’s already played for four high schools. Johnson started his high school career at Saugerties (NY) before leaving for IMG Academy (Fla.) and then transferring back to Saugerties. In his sophomore season, he started at Mayfair (Calif.) High School and then landed at Oak Hill.
If Johnson has switched schools four times in the past two years, it’s possible that Johnson could switch his commitment over the next two years.
And his commitment may not be to another college. Johnson could join a trend of elite high school prospects that forgo college and jump to the professional ranks. Only two seasons ago, Syracuse lost five-star prospect Darius Bazley, who decommitted from Syracuse with the plan of playing in the G League to skirt the NBA’s one-and-done rule (which may be eliminated in 2021).
LeMelo Ball, a potential No. 1 pick in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft, played for a year overseas in the NBL (Australia) instead of college.
All are concerning possibilities for Syracuse, who could potentially lose the No. 3 overall prospect in 2022.