It might only be June, but it is never too early to start thinking about Syracuse basketball. Jim Boeheim finalized his roster for the upcoming 2022-23 season with the addition of Mounir Hima. The 6’11” center committed to the Orange just over a week ago, completing a transfer from Duquesne. It was a bit more for SU, literally and figuratively, to round out the roster for the upcoming season.
The move got me thinking about the future of Syracuse basketball. Beyond this season, there is a lot of uncertainty. There is a good chance that none of Syracuse’s five starters from this past season will still be with the program by the time the 2023-24 season begins. Joe Girard is entering his redshirt junior season. The same is true for Jesse Edwards. Cole Swider and the Boeheim brothers are already gone, passing on the extra year of eligibility.
So who could be starting for Syracuse by the time fall of 2023 rolls around? Boeheim has his top recruit from a year ago, Benny Williams, hopefully sticking around assuming he doesn’t have a massive season this year and make the leap to the NBA, or transfer because he hasn’t found his groove. Based on what we saw last season, I think Williams could be a three-or-four-year player. He is super talented, but has a lot of development left to do in his game.
Beyond that, there are a lot of question marks. Boeheim did secure the 20th ranked recruiting class in the country, according to 24/7 Sports, for this upcoming season featuring a whopping six signees. Syracuse also has a number of offers out to members of the 2023 recruiting class. Let’s take a look at what this starting lineup could look like in the not-too-distant future.
This might be the position that has the most uncertainty at this point. Judah Mintz will likely be the starter this season. If not, Symir Torrence could be in line for some minutes in that role this year. However, he is also entering his fourth year of college basketball after spending two years at Marquette and then this past season with Syracuse. There is no guarantee he will be back in 2023.
Combo guards Mintz and Quadir Copeland signed on as part of this recruiting class. But while Mintz is projected as the starting PG this upcoming season, he projects best as a shooting guard. Copeland however could be in the mix at point guard. He is big at 6’6” for the position and reportedly has a good handle. If Copeland doesn’t secure the job, it could belong to Aden Holloway. He is a four-star recruit from Indiana in the 2023 class that Syracuse has already offered. Holloway has 12 other offers, but has only gone on one official visit, so the possibility of landing him is still wide open for the Orange. He is a more traditional point guard, so if Syracuse is lucky enough to land him, I could see him being the starter as a freshman.
At this point, shooting guard feels a little more straightforward. I expect this job will belong to Mintz by 2023. He lacks elite size for the position at 6’4”, but he is a proven slasher who can finish around the rim. 24/7 describes him as a player working to become more consistent from beyond the arc. If he can improve as a shooter while coming off the bench during his freshman year, I think he will be the frontrunner to claim this spot, especially as a four-star recruit.
The only way I see Mintz not being the starter is if Syracuse can somehow land DJ Wagner in the 2023 recruiting cycle, or a big-time transfer. Syracuse was pursuing five-star guard Elijah Fisher, but he’s now off the board to Texas Tech. The Orange seemingly have no shot at Wagner. The nation’s number one recruit is closing in on both Kentucky and Louisville as his top options. Memphis is also in the mix for him. Syracuse has also offered 2023 shooting guards Blue Cain and Reid Ducharme, but I think Mintz would have the leg up on both of them. Boeheim tends to prefer starting veterans over freshmen.
As far as transfers go, I think Boeheim would prefer to fill out his roster with transfers rather than fill in starting spots. 2021-22 was a bit of an anomaly with Jimmy Boeheim and Cole Swider arriving. Elijah Hughes was the only other player to step into a starting role after transferring in from the past five years.
Please let this be Benny Williams. I really want him to have a great 2022-23 season, but I also really want him to still be around in 2023-24. It’s a tough balance. Williams is almost assuredly starting for the Orange this season. I really can’t see a scenario where he stays with the program if he is not starting.
If Williams does ride a huge sophomore season into the pros, the outlook is a little trickier here. Syracuse is bringing in four forwards as a part of this recruiting class. They have also offered five-star recruit Matas Buzelis and four-star recruit Gavin Griffiths for the following year. However, North Carolina and Kentucky have emerged as a favorites for Buzelis while Griffiths is announcing later today and appears headed to Rutgers.
It is more likely that one of the four players Boeheim brought in this season will have a shot at it. I’d say that Chris Bunch and Justin Taylor are the most likely candidates here. Both are listed as small forwards on 24/7 Sports and fit the size profile a bit more at 6’7” and 6’6” respectively. If SU really wants to find another forward, they will have to look elsewhere.
This second forward spot is already a bit uncertain this season and I don’t know that we are closer to a long-term answer here. There is a chance that some combination of Williams, Bunch and Taylor command both forward spots again if they are all still with the program in 2023. The other two forwards Syracuse brought in are three-star recruits Maliq Brown and Peter Carey. Brown is 6’9” and Carey is 6’11”, so both would bring a bit more size to the position. Both could be in play if they develop and Boeheim wants a bigger lineup.
As of now, the prospects of adding a 2023 recruit at the position is unlikely. The only power forward SU offered was G.G. Jackson, who committed to UNC. My guess is that with four forwards in this recruiting class, some combination of that group will take those two spots come 2023, barring a transfer in.
It seems like Boeheim is committed to finding more depth on the interior. Hima brings immediate depth and will still be eligible in 2023, so he could be in the mix. So could Edwards if he decides to stay for a fifth year. I also wonder if Carey could be in contention for the role if he can bulk a bit. He is 6’11”.
Boeheim is not counting on that being the case though, with four offers to big men in the 2023 recruiting class. Isaiah Miranda and Papa Kante are both four-star recruits that could be in the mix if they decide to pick the Orange. JP Estrella and Ugonna Kingsley Onyenso are both unranked prospects. They would likely serve as depth and developmental options for the future. None of them are under 6’10”. Estrella does have a staggering 24 offers though, so maybe we shouldn’t discount his potential impact.