Syracuse Basketball: 7-foot-4 big, set to visit, says staff is ‘very welcoming’

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports) /

Florida State big-man transfer Naheem McLeod is visiting Syracuse basketball this weekend, and he said in an interview this week that the Orange coaching staff has been watching him since he was a freshman in high school.

Earlier this week, the 7-foot-4 sophomore center at fellow Atlantic Coast Conference member Florida State, who is in the NCAA’s transfer portal, said on Twitter that he would visit the Orange this weekend, which is an encouraging development.

Syracuse basketball coaches are on the hunt for a veteran center to fill out that position group ahead of the 2023-24 campaign. Senior Jesse Edwards transferred to West Virginia, and the three other centers expected to be on the Orange’s 2023-24 roster are inexperienced.

McLeod, who is from Philadelphia, has spent the past two terms with the Seminoles. In the 2022-23 season, he appeared in 28 games, averaging 13.1 minutes, 3.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per contest, while connecting on 54.7 percent from the field but just 40.6 percent from the free-throw line.

While those aren’t overly big offensive numbers, keep in mind that Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton is known for playing a deep rotation. In 2022-23, for example, nine FSU players averaged at least 12 minutes per game.

Florida State transfer center Naheem McLeod discusses the Syracuse basketball coaching staff.

In an interview this week with SyracuseOnSI publisher Mike McAllister, McLeod said that when he first entered the transfer portal, the Orange “was the second school to call me.”

Per a recent tweet from 24/7 High School Hoops, McLeod has heard from numerous squads, such as St. John’s, Villanova, Gonzaga, Arizona, Clemson, South Carolina, Wake Forest, Texas, West Virginia, Georgetown, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Butler, Minnesota, Rutgers, Ole Miss and Temple, among others.

"McLeod said to McAllister, “The coaches there have been there already. They know the system and they said they’ve been watching me since I was a freshman in high school. They just reached out too late, to the point where I already chose Florida State coming out of high school. They’re all coming at me at once, I can’t say it’s just one coach. When I pick up the phone, it’s all of the coaches there. They say they can’t wait to get me on campus. Very welcoming there.”"

Prior to joining the Seminoles, McLeod played at Chipola College in Marianna, Fla. As a member of the 2019 class, he attended Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

During his visit to the ‘Cuse, McLeod says he’s looking forward to bonding with Syracuse basketball coaches and players. He added to McAllister, “I love playing at the Dome. I’m actually 1-0 at the Dome. I like that stadium. I think it’s really cool.”

According to the SyracuseOnSI article, McLeod is eyeing several other potential visits after his trip to Central New York concludes.

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