Syracuse Basketball: Alan Griffin bolsters depth and scoring for Orange

Syracuse basketball has a huge void to likely fill with the expected departure of Elijah Hughes, and new commit Alan Griffin will assuredly help.

Syracuse basketball enjoyed a one-two punch of bliss on Saturday night, as the program re-lived its 2003 NCAA title-game win against Kansas and picked up a commitment from talented wing Alan Griffin.

The 6-foot-5 Griffin, a sophomore transfer from Illinois, selected the Orange over five other finalists in Miami, Dayton, Iowa State, Arizona, and Texas. This is a tremendous get for the ‘Cuse, as the native of New York state will bring some much-needed scoring prowess to a Syracuse roster that has witnessed a handful of defections in recent weeks.

The biggest exit is redshirt junior forward Elijah Hughes, who has elected to test the NBA Draft waters. While it’s possible that Hughes, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s leading points producer during the 2019-20 stanza, could return to the Hill, his draft stock appears on the rise.

Let’s assume that Hughes turns pro and forgoes his final year of collegiate eligibility. Another question mark is whether Griffin, a three-star prospect who attended Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, N.Y., will have the ability to compete in actual contests this fall.

The NCAA is contemplating legislation that would allow student-athletes a one-time transfer exception, with immediate eligibility, beginning in the 2020-21 term. However, it seems that the novel coronavirus pandemic has made the timing of a vote on this legislation a bit murky.

If the proposed rule change does occur sooner rather than later, and I think that it will, or Griffin receives a waiver from the NCAA, then his on-court presence in 2020-21 could significantly aid the Orange in attempting to replace Hughes’ scoring.

Griffin, in fewer than 20 minutes of run per affair for a top-25 Fighting Illini squad, averaged 8.9 points and 4.5 rebounds. That’s quite efficient. Equally as important, he can shoot the rock – connecting on 48.3 percent from the field, 86.1 percent from the charity stripe, and 41.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Since multiple guards are leaving the ‘Cuse, that had diminished the position to just three guys in rising sophomore Joe Girard III and rising junior Buddy Boeheim, the two starters, along with incoming freshman Kadary Richmond.

While Syracuse coaches don’t want to overbook the guard spot, because that can create issues as well, having a fourth guard is critical to offset foul trouble or potential injuries. Plus, with Griffin’s length, he can probably suit up at shooting guard or small forward.

The line-up options for the Orange are intriguing. Having Griffin on the floor with Girard and Boeheim would provide a ton of shot-making aptitude. The 6-foot-7 Richmond and Griffin are newbies to the ‘Cuse, but their length at the top of the 2-3 zone would prove interesting.

It’s fairly safe to say that Griffin should earn ample minutes in 2020-21 if he’s eligible. But whether he starts, and how his insertion into the rotation affects other wings’ playing time, are facets to keep an eye on heading into the next campaign.

Landing Griffin, who has two years of eligibility left and is one of the premier traditional transfers across the country, hopefully, will appease some Syracuse fanatics who have complained of late that the Orange coaching staff is slipping in the recruiting arena.

Griffin is a high-energy guy and strong on the glass. There is an assertive edge to his personality and skill-set, a moxie that you can’t necessarily teach. I can’t wait for him to arrive on campus.