Syracuse Basketball: Buckle up, this off-season will be a wild ride for roster

This off-season could prove quite interesting for the Syracuse basketball roster ahead of the 2022-23 stanza.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not wanting or wishing the current campaign to be done with quickly, as I’m hopeful that the ‘Cuse is turning a corner and will start to pile up wins in droves.

However, with the NCAA’s policy that allows all student-athletes to transfer once and retain immediate eligibility, the Orange roster had a huge make-over prior to the 2021-22 term, and we should expect that all the time moving forward.

Word broke on Thursday night, according to media reports, that ‘Cuse head coach Jim Boeheim said on his weekly radio show that graduate student forward Jimmy Boeheim may seek a petition from the NCAA to have a fifth season and return to the Orange in 2022-23.

That, understandably, set off a firestorm of debate among Syracuse basketball fans as to how Boeheim’s potential return for another year could shake up the team’s 2022-23 line-up.

Could Jimmy Boeheim coming back to Syracuse basketball affect other guys on the squad?

First and foremost, it’s important to note that there’s no guarantee the NCAA will grant Boeheim another term of eligibility. The NCAA is incompetent and inconsistent with its rulings, in my humble opinion.

I do feel that Boeheim should be granted a fifth year. Why? Because in 2020-21, all college basketball players who suited up in that campaign were granted an additional year of eligibility, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, Boeheim was playing for Cornell at the time, and the Ivy League canceled its 2020-21 stanza. So Boeheim and fellow Ivy League players didn’t get the extra season, and I don’t think that’s fair.

Now, a lot of Orange fans are providing strong opinions as to whether they want Boeheim to return in 2022-23. Some believe that if Boeheim returns, that could cause others to bolt Central New York, whether it’s current freshman forward Benny Williams or even incoming 2022 commits like four-star small forward Chris Bunch or three-star power forward Maliq Brown.

Honestly, who really knows at this point. It’s all speculation. Williams has shot down transfer rumors more than once of late. What I do find intriguing is whether Boeheim coming back could, in turn, lead to his brother, senior shooting guard Buddy Boeheim, ultimately returning for another season.

Some fans opine that if Buddy Buckets does come back, that could affect 2022 four-star shooting guard Justin Taylor, who is part of a five-member Syracuse basketball class in this cycle. Again, that’s all conjecture at this stage.

But what if senior forward Cole Swider also takes advantage of a fifth year on the Hill? That would create a logjam at the forward position, although Jim Boeheim said on his radio show that it’s unrealistic that both of the Boeheim brothers, and Swider, will all return, according to media reports, including this one from SyracuseOnSI publisher Mike McAllister.

We also have to keep in mind, and obviously the ‘Cuse coaching staff is on top of this, but the team is only allowed to have 13 scholarship players, although I’ve seen reports in the past that suggest both Buddy Boeheim and Jimmy Boeheim could potentially suit up as walk-on players, due to their dad being a Syracuse University employee.

It seems as though point guard Joe Girard III and combo guard Symir Torrence will be back for their senior stints. I would assume junior center Jesse Edwards will also return.

But what about sophomore center Frank Anselem and redshirt sophomore power forward/center John Bol Ajak? They could stay, or they could hit the transfer portal. Ajak even entertained that approach prior to the 2021-22 season.

It’s a brave new world in recruiting due to the portal, and we’ll likely see a bunch of movement on the Orange’s roster down the line.