Syracuse Basketball: Adrian Autry and assistants crushing recruiting trail

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports) /

Just over two months into his tenure as the Syracuse basketball head coach, Adrian Autry and his assistants are really hitting a home run on the recruiting trail.

We’ll have to wait and see how the Orange fares on the court in the upcoming 2023-24 season and beyond, but from a recruiting perspective, ‘Cuse fans have a lot to feel excited about in the early goings of the Autry-led Syracuse basketball program.

Adrian Autry & Co., lately, put on a full-court press for 2024 four-star big man Donnie Freeman from Washington, D.C., who gave a verbal commitment to the Orange a few days ago.

That development gives the ‘Cuse two four-star commits in the junior cycle, and the team’s 2024 class vaulted into the top 10 nationally as a result. The team’s other pledge in this cycle is four-star shooting guard Elijah Moore from New York City, who verbally committed to the Orange in late January.

Syracuse basketball head coach Adrian Autry and his staff are quite busy with their recruiting efforts.

In early March, SU Athletics said that Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim would retire, and he would get replaced by Autry. Ever since then, Adrian Autry and his assistants, including recently hired Brenden Straughn, have hit the ground running with their recruiting.

The Orange coaching staff, among other efforts, watched Moore suit up during high-school post-season play. To that end, the ‘Cuse was also in attendance twice for 2024 priority target Jalil Bethea, a four-star guard from the Philadelphia area, as he competed in the Pennsylvania playoffs.

Moore, by the way, reaffirmed his verbal commitment to Syracuse basketball after Autry was named to replace Boeheim, which was a pivotal thing to transpire for the Orange’s new head coach.

During the April live periods on the AAU circuit, Syracuse basketball coaches checked out a bunch of high-school prospects, including Moore, Bethea, Freeman and 2025 four-star shooting guard Kiyan Anthony, as well as multiple new targets in 2024 four-star center Patrick Ngongba II, 2024 four-star wing Caleb Williams and 2024 four-star point guard Mikey Lewis.

Ngongba and Lewis have recently said that they would like to visit the Hill at some point. Ngongba and Williams suit up alongside Freeman with the Washington-based Team Takeover in Nike’s EYBL league, where both Adrian Autry and Straughn previously served as assistants.

Also recently, Syracuse basketball coaches traveled twice to our nation’s capital to meet with Freeman, they made an in-person visit to Bethea, and they also met with Ngongba in the D.C. area, according to media reports.

It’s an understatement to stress the importance of Straughn coming on board as the Orange’s third assistant coach. Like Adrian Autry, Straughn has deep recruiting connections and ties in the talent-rich Washington metropolitan area.

Since the start of the grassroots basketball circuit this spring, the ‘Cuse has offered a range of four-star and five-star players in the 2024 and 2025 cycles. That includes Lewis, Ngongba and Williams in the junior class.

In the sophomore cycle, Syracuse basketball has doled out at least five offers lately that I’m aware of, and they went out to five-star point guard Tyler Jackson from Baltimore, five-star shooting guard Darryn Peterson from Ohio, four-star forward Sadiq White from North Carolina, four-star wing Cam Ward from the D.C. region, and fast-rising big man Nikola Bundalo from Ohio.

Reports suggest that the Orange coaching staff remains in consistent communication with Anthony, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he ends up taking a visit to the ‘Cuse. Jackson has said in several interviews that he wants to visit Syracuse basketball.

Last summer, Orange coaches offered four-star point guard Jerry Easter II from Ohio, and a couple of recent reports have stated that Easter, who is nearing five-star status in the 2025 class, would like to make a trip to Central New York in the future.

Now, if we look at the team’s recruiting as it relates to the transfer portal this off-season, we have to note that four players on the 2022-23 roster have hit the portal. Senior shooting guard Joe Girard III is headed to Clemson, senior center Jesse Edwards has committed to West Virginia, senior guard Symir Torrence is going to Binghamton, and redshirt junior big man John Bol Ajak is also in the portal.

Losing Edwards, in particular, is a tough pill to swallow. But in all fairness, many college teams are seeing their rosters undergo significant makeovers this off-season (and every off-season moving forward) due to the portal’s explosion.

Plus, freshman point guard Judah Mintz is testing the NBA Draft waters while maintaining his college eligibility. He recently secured an invite to the 2023 NBA Draft Combine, which takes place from May 15 to May 21 in Chicago. We’ll have to wait and see what Mintz ultimately decides to do.

However, to help offset the potential loss of Mintz and other guards who have departed the team, Adrian Autry and his assistants brought in transfer guards Chance Westry, a freshman at Auburn, and J.J. Starling, a freshman at Notre Dame.

Westry is a former four-star, top-40 overall player in the 2022 class, while Starling is a former five-star, top-25 national prospect in the same recruiting cycle.

With Edwards gone, Syracuse basketball coaches have reportedly reached out to a variety of centers this off-season, whether transfers or high-school prospects. Last weekend, transfer Naheem McLeod took an official visit to the Hill, and he is a 7-foot-4 sophomore center from Florida State.

McLeod said via Twitter on Saturday that his commitment announcement is coming “next week,” and I think that Syracuse basketball has an excellent shot to land this talented big man.

I get that the Orange has seen multiple players leave, but the ‘Cuse has also brought in a couple of talented transfers via the portal. Syracuse basketball has held onto Moore, a top-70 overall player, and received a verbal commitment from Freeman, a top-40 national prospect.

All of this, to me, spells a whole lot of positivity for the Orange on the recruiting trail, and I want to dish out well-deserved credit to Autry, Straughn, associate head coach Gerry McNamara and assistant coach Allen Griffin.

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