Top scout dissects 2022 class, says Syracuse basketball can be dangerous

Syracuse basketball (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images)
Syracuse basketball (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images) /

Syracuse basketball, to put it mildly, had a disappointing 2021-22 campaign, when it endured its first losing season in the 46 years that Jim Boeheim has served as the Orange’s head coach.

Looking ahead, the ‘Cuse 2022-23 roster will be vastly different, and that’s the case with high-major programs across the country, due to factors such as NIL, the transfer portal and professional options for high-school prospects.

Frankly, the Orange zone defense was not good in 2021-22, although the ‘Cuse could score points in droves. With the Boeheim brothers, senior shooting guard Buddy Boeheim and graduate student forward Jimmy Boeheim, along with others like senior forward Cole Swider having departed the Hill, it’s fair to assume that maybe the 2022-23 squad’s perimeter shooting might not prove quite as lethal.

Then again, as a top expert recently discussed, the Orange’s defense could be much better. And this pundit believes that while there may not be a lot of pre-season chatter and hype about Syracuse basketball ahead of the 2022-23 stanza, the ‘Cuse could be a dangerous team for which to contend.

The Syracuse basketball line-up should be way more athletic next season.

In 2022-23, the Orange returns guys such as junior guard Joe Girard III, junior guard Symir Torrence, junior center Jesse Edwards and freshman forward Benny Williams.

That’s a solid core. Then the ‘Cuse brings in a six-member 2022 class that is ranked in the top-10 to the top-20 nationally, per various recruiting services.

Most recently, just a few days ago, the team added some center depth by getting a commitment from Duquesne transfer Mounir Hima.

Assuming that there are no additional roster changes prior to 2022-23, what does this line-up look like for the Orange? My friend Matthew DeBritz recently discussed this topic with 247Sports director of scouting Adam Finkelstein on his Dome Dawg Podcast, and I wanted to share some of Finkelstein’s comments.

Finkelstein noted that in the past, when the ‘Cuse zone has fared well, it has included a strong rim protector, along with bigger-sized guards and athleticism/length on the wing.

While the 2022-23 roster for Syracuse basketball is relatively young, it does have some veterans, and Finkelstein thinks that this team will boast better perimeter size in the zone, and it will have more athleticism.

For reference, the Orange’s 2022 cycle consists of 6-foot-3 four-star guard Judah Mintz, 6-foot-7 four-star small forward Chris Bunch, 6-foot-6 four-star shooting guard/small forward Justin Taylor, 6-foot-6 four-star point guard Quadir Copeland, 6-foot-9 three-star power forward Maliq Brown, and 6-foot-11 three-star power forward/center Peter Carey.

Undeniably, this 2022 class has a ton of size. Jim Boeheim has said at least once in recent months that, given the 2022-23 roster’s athleticism, he could play some man-to-man defense this coming season.

That being said, Finkelstein says the 2022-23 line-up for the Orange should be well-suited to have an effective zone defense. His main question, though, is whether the ‘Cuse will generate the same amount of offense, taking into account the players who left and who is coming in for Syracuse basketball.

Mintz, according to Finkelstein, greatly improved his efficiency on offense during his senior term at the powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va.

And Mintz, this expert says, is a true two-way player who takes pride on the defensive end and should make an immediate impact in Central New York, due to the stellar level of competition that he played with and against as a senior.

Regarding Brown and Carey, Finkelstein foresees them as athletic big men who bring length and size, although they’ll likely be more of play-finishers than play-makers, which is understandable.

Finkelstein says that Copeland has terrific floor vision and play-making ability, and he’s a good passer, but he has to limit his turnovers. The 247Sports analyst also isn’t sure that Copeland will see a lot of court time in his freshman stint.

All in all, Finkelstein sees Mintz as having the largest impact of the six incoming freshmen, with many of the biggest contributors for Syracuse basketball in 2022-23 being the team’s returning veterans.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Orange doesn’t knock down shots from beyond the arc at the same rate this coming stanza as it did in 2021-22, however, I also think that Mintz, Taylor and Bunch can all bring some credible 3-point shooting to the table.

The ‘Cuse has a promising blend of veterans and newbies for 2022-23, and if the zone is greatly improved, that can help propel Syracuse basketball forward as a potentially dangerous squad, Finkelstein says.

He added that the Orange’s 2022 cycle has multiple players who are good long-term prospects, and if the ‘Cuse coaching staff can get these guys to stick around for a few years, the future looks bright for Syracuse basketball after a disappointing 2021-22.

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