Syracuse Basketball: Transfer portal to greatly alter high-school recruiting

Several weeks ago, Syracuse basketball coaches and their peers around the country were able to watch high-school prospects in person for the first instance in a long time, given the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, college coaches could begin making direct communication with players in the 2023 class; these prospects just finished up their sophomore years in high school.

While those two developments have resulted in scholarship offers being doled out to high-school prospects in the 2023 cycle and other classes, some analysts are suggesting that the NCAA’s new transfer policy is going to change how college coaches recruit high-school players moving forward in a big-time way.

As has been widely reported, the NCAA has adopted a new policy whereby student-athletes in all sports, including college basketball, can transfer once while still retaining immediate eligibility.

That, in turn, has caused a free-agency explosion in collegiate hoops. Orange head coach Jim Boeheim has said that the NCAA measure would result in college players transferring right and left, and he was right.

The ‘Cuse hasn’t been immune to this, with multiple guys transferring into and out of the program of late following the 2020-21 campaign. This is expected to regularly occur in Division I men’s basketball on an annual basis from now on, unless NCAA officials were to further revamp their transfer policy.

The transfer portal could impact how Syracuse basketball recruits high-school players.

Once college coaches could reach out directly to 2023 players, a lot of high-major squads pledged scholarship offers to prospects in this class.

I didn’t see that transpire with the Orange. The team had previously offered about a half-dozen 2023 players, and offers to others in this cycle will surely happen.

But the notion that players already in college will be readily – and immediately – available via the transfer portal absolutely could lead ‘Cuse coaches and their peers nationwide to slow down the number of offers that they make to high-school players.

Following a recent live period when college coaches could evaluate high-school prospects in person, analyst Dan McDonald put together some interesting thoughts on the transfer portal.

McDonald wrote in part, “The consensus from coaches I spoke with … is that the ability to grab a transfer next spring makes it harder to put a scholarship out to anyone that doesn’t stand out at a really high level. Prospects are now being compared to student athletes in college right now, so if a coach is 50-50 about making an offer, they are more likely not to pull the trigger on the same prospect they likely would have offered two years ago.”

He adds that college coaches are not only looking at the level of prospects, but also the coaches are “doing a deeper dive” on these high-school players.

Does this mean that Syracuse basketball coaches are going to offer fewer scholarships to high-school prospects in the future? I never thought that the Orange coaching staff was one to just randomly throw out offers to a flood of high-school players.

Boeheim and his assistants have, to me, always appeared to be strategic with their offers. With the transfer portal even more of a realistic option than it had proven in the past, ‘Cuse coaches can likely become even more methodical in the seasons to come.