Syracuse Recruiting Roundup: Tracking the transfer portal

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Feb 26, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim speaks to the media following Syracuse's 97-72 loss to the Duke Blue Devils at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jim Stechschulte-The Juice Online.

Syracuse’s season didn’t end the way Jim Boeheim, the players, or the fans wanted. But like my colleague, Wes Cheng, recently wrote, there’s still plenty to do in the offseason.

In a clear sign that neither Buddy nor Jimmy plan to return for another season playing for their father, both brothers recently signed with sports agency Roc Nation. Buddy’s 3-point shooting will surely be missed. And when we last saw Jimmy, he turned in arguably his best performance in orange as he dropped 28 points on Duke in Syracuse’s ACC tournament loss to the Blue Devils.

Cole Swider has yet to announce whether he will move on too. Jim Boeheim previously stated that Swider said this would be his only year at Syracuse. But Swider could return thanks to the COVID eligibility rules. And Syracuse would certainly benefit from his 3-point shooting at the forward spot.

Benny Williams has stated multiple times that he plans on returning despite not having the impact expected from a 5-star recruit.

Still, the transfer portal has altered the landscape of college sports. Players can seek out opportunities for instant playing time if they aren’t happy with their current situation. And with a five-player recruiting class joining the team next season, Boeheim might look to the portal to bolster his team with some battle-tested upperclassmen while he waits for the freshman to acclimate to the college game.

Here are some players who have entered the portal who could strengthen the Orange roster next season.

Cam Hayes

Hayes is a sophomore PG at NC State. He played in 55 games over two seasons and averaged 7.3 PPG. With Buddy moving on, Joe Girard should slide over to the SG since he’s a better shooter off the ball. Though, Symir Torrence seems to have the inside track to be the lead guard especially given how well he played in two ACC Tournament games. The Syracuse native had 20 assists in the two games combined.

Ledarrius Brewer

Brewer is a SG from East Tennessee State. He’d offer immediate help in the backcourt as he averaged 14.6 PPG and 5.3 RPG this past season. The grad transfer could provide needed guard depth if Quadir Copeland isn’t ready to provide minutes behind Torrence and Girard.

Jalen Bridges

The sophomore SF from West Virginia put up decent numbers for the Mountaineers this past season. He averaged 7.3 PPG and 4.2 RPG while knocking down 35.6 percent of his threes. He shot 40.9 percent from beyond the arc as a freshman.

» Related: The latest with Syracuse basketball recruits Robert Wright, Judah Mintz

James Graham

Graham is a SF out of Milwaukee, WI who signed with Maryland and enrolled in January 2021. He played minimal minutes in nine games over parts of two seasons. At 6-foot-8, he could compete for minutes if Swider leaves and Chris Bunch needs some seasoning.

Besides the transfer portal, Syracuse could opt to pursue 5-star PG Skyy Clark, who recently decommitted from Kentucky.

Syracuse could easily improve from within next season if Swider elects to return and Benny Williams seizes the starting power forward spot.

But more than likely, the Orange’s roster is far from set and a difference maker, or two, could come from the transfer portal.

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About Steve Auger 164 Articles
Steve Auger is a freelance writer whose work has covered a variety of topics including sports, pets, parenting, healthy living, local government and human interest stories. Steve’s been a diehard Syracuse sports fan for over 25 years. To this day, the words “Smart takes the shot” still make him cringe. And according to Rutgers' fans, he's "not a take."