Syracuse Basketball: Even if Judah Mintz goes pro, backcourt looking good

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports) /

Two guards on the Syracuse basketball 2022-23 roster are in the NCAA’s transfer portal, and a third, freshman Judah Mintz, is testing the 2023 NBA Draft waters while maintaining his college eligibility.

We’ll have to wait and see whether Mintz elects to stay in this year’s NBA Draft. The point guard had a really strong freshman season, and I wish him nothing but success if he goes pro rather than returns to the Hill for a second term.

Should Judah Mintz come back for his sophomore year, that’s awesome. But if he doesn’t, I think that the ‘Cuse backcourt can still prove a strong position group for the Orange in the 2023-24 stanza, although it will likely be a young group.

On Monday, head coach Adrian Autry and his assistants landed a commitment from Auburn transfer Chance Westry, a former long-time Orange target who has four years of eligibility left. The 6-foot-6 guard was a four-star, top-50 national prospect in the 2022 cycle.

Westry’s commitment to the ‘Cuse comes a few weeks after Central New York native J.J. Starling said he would transfer from Notre Dame following his freshman season with the Fighting Irish to Syracuse basketball. The 6-foot-4 Starling, also a former long-time ‘Cuse recruit, was a five-star, top-25 player in the 2022 class.

Syracuse basketball has stabilized its 2023-24 backcourt, and then some.

The Orange’s 2022-23 backcourt included Mintz, senior Joe Girard III, senior Symir Torrence, freshman Quadir Copeland and freshman Justin Taylor.

Torrence is in the transfer portal. Girard is also in the transfer portal and testing the 2023 NBA Draft waters.

Mintz, as I already noted, is testing the 2023 NBA Draft waters. If he stays in the draft, the team’s backcourt figures to be Westry, Starling, Copeland and Taylor. Fellow freshman forward Chris Bell, a small forward, probably could play shooting guard as well.

That’s four to five rising sophomores, not including Mintz. Sure, yes, it’s a relatively young group. But all of these guys got playing time throughout 2022-23 and showed flashes of solid play, although Westry didn’t appear in many games for Auburn due to injury.

Westry and Starling are athletic, dynamic playmakers. Both of them need to improve their perimeter shooting. The same can be said for Mintz. Copeland is a hybrid guard/wing who has the ability to facilitate well for others, but isn’t a huge threat from deep.

Taylor and Bell, though, are good to great 3-point shooters. Sophomore Benny Williams, who can play small or power forward, also showed an improved shot from long range in 2022-23.

My point here is that this Orange backcourt, in 2023-24, won’t light it up from beyond the arc as the ‘Cuse did with the Boeheim brothers and Cole Swider in 2021-22. At the same time, guys like Westry and Starling are quick, get into the lane and play up-tempo.

Would I and other Syracuse basketball fans like to see Judah Mintz return in 2023-24? Absolutely. But even if he doesn’t come back, Autry and his staff have made some impressive additions to put forth a formidable backcourt in the upcoming campaign.

Next. Syracuse Basketball: 4-star SG Kiyan Anthony ‘establishing his own game’. dark