Syracuse Basketball: If roster’s core comes back, this team could be stellar

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

Buckle up, Syracuse basketball fans. This off-season should be a wild ride amid the comings and goings of the NCAA’s transfer portal.

The Orange recently wrapped up a disappointing 17-15 mark in the 2022-23 season after going a sub-par 16-17 a stanza ago. Already, there has been a lot of activity within the ‘Cuse program just in the past two weeks or so.

Long-time head coach Jim Boeheim has retired from the position and taken on a new role with SU Athletics. Adrian Autry is the new head coach. Gerry McNamara is the new associate head coach. Allen Griffin will continue as an assistant coach, and Autry is eyeing another assistant-coaching hire.

The new Orange coaching staff has been hitting the recruiting trail hard. There is excitement in the air for the future. How the ‘Cuse fares in 2023-24, though, will likely depend on what players on the current roster elect to return to the Hill.

Let’s see what guys on the present Syracuse basketball roster elect to stay or go.

In 2022-23, the Orange had 12 scholarship players. Word has already come out that senior guard Symir Torrence and redshirt junior forward John Bol Ajak have entered the transfer portal.

The ‘Cuse has one high-school commit in 2023 three-star big man William Patterson out of The Patrick School in Hillside, N.J. Not too long ago, Central New York native J.J. Starling, a five-star guard in the 2022 cycle, said he would transfer from Notre Dame to the Orange, citing his relationship with Autry as a big reason why.

We’ll have to wait and see what other Syracuse basketball players may hit the portal or depart the program for the professional ranks. Senior shooting guard Joe Girard III and senior center Jesse Edwards could both come back for a fifth year granted by the NCAA due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Edwards, in particular, would be a big development if he decides to return, given that the Orange’s other centers are inexperienced and young.

The other huge question mark is freshman point guard Judah Mintz. He had a tremendous first term for the ‘Cuse and has appeared in some mock projections ahead of the 2023 NBA Draft. I think that Mintz could use another campaign in college, and he and Starling would be a fabulous backcourt.

With Autry at the helm of Syracuse basketball, I think (well, I hope) that bodes well for sophomore forward Benny Williams to return. It will be interesting to see what transpires with freshmen forwards Justin Taylor, Chris Bell and Maliq Brown, as well as freshman guard/wing Quadir Copeland.

I would imagine that sophomore center Mounir Hima and freshman big man Peter Carey will be back.

On Friday, March 10, at his introductory press conference, Autry discussed the Orange roster and the 2023-24 season. Here are some of his thoughts, per a piece from James Finneral of 247Sports.

"“I think if you look at this year and break it down, we had a ton of close games that we lost and some of that was due to inexperience,” Autry said. “We talked about that going into the season, this is a young team. I think if we can get all of these guys to come back, I think we can really put ourselves in a place to be very very successful next year. I think we want that. I think they want that. We were very disappointed in the outcome of this season, but I think with everybody having eligibility to come back, it’s a big plus. If they did come back, we could really do some things and get back to winning and being where we want to be at. That’s what I talked to these guys about. I think it’s a great opportunity, so we’ll see how it plays out.”"

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