Syracuse Basketball: ‘Cuse 2023 transfer class jumps into top 10 nationally

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

Buoyed by the addition of a Florida State center who committed to Syracuse basketball a few days ago, the Orange’s 2023 transfer team ranking has vaulted into the top 10 across the country, according to the 247Sports Web site.

On Monday, 7-foot-4 sophomore center Naheem McLeod said via Twitter that he would transfer from the Seminoles to the ‘Cuse, where he will have two seasons of college eligibility remaining.

Syracuse basketball coaches, in landing McLeod, have bolstered their depth at the center position ahead of the 2023-24 campaign. The Orange now has four centers on its roster for the upcoming stanza, and McLeod is likely to be the front-runner for the starting spot at this position when the 2023-24 term commences.

McLeod’s decision to suit up for the ‘Cuse also gives the squad three players in its transfer class this off-season.

Syracuse basketball has a top-10 transfer class, according to one recruiting service.

Besides McLeod, the Orange coaching staff has picked up commitments from two guards this off-season via the NCAA’s transfer portal, and they are Notre Dame freshman J.J. Starling and Auburn freshman Chance Westry.

The 6-foot-4 Starling, a Central New York native, averaged more than 11 points per game during the 2022-23 season for the Fighting Irish and was, as a result, named to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s All-Freshman team. In the 2022 class, Starling was a five-star, top-25 national prospect.

The 6-foot-6 Westry, meanwhile, was injured for most of his freshman term with the Tigers. However, in the 2022 cycle, he was a four-star, top-40 overall player, according to several recruiting services.

When I penned this column, the Orange’s three-member 2023 transfer class checked in at No. 9 nationwide, per the 247Sports Web site. To be fair, though, the team’s rating certainly is going to ebb and flow depending on what other college squads end up doing in the portal during the remainder of this off-season.

Still, to have a top-10 rating is encouraging. There are a couple of teams ahead of the ‘Cuse in the 247Sports transfer team rankings that are worth noting. At the time of this writing, West Virginia was No. 1 overall, and among the transfers who have committed to the Mountaineers this off-season is former Syracuse basketball senior center Jesse Edwards.

Kansas was at No. 2. The Jayhawks won the recruiting sweepstakes over Michigan junior center Hunter Dickinson, who was contacted by the Orange and did a Zoom meeting with the ‘Cuse coaching staff in mid-April.

Additionally, St. John’s resided at No. 6. Rick Pitino, an assistant under former Orange head coach Jim Boeheim decades ago, is back in the Big East Conference as the head coach of the Red Storm. Pitino, who won national titles as a head coach at both Kentucky and Louisville, is hitting the recruiting trail hard these days.

Over at the On3 Web site, that recruiting service has what it calls the Team Transfer Portal Index, and this rating factors in both transfers into and out of a particular program. Syracuse basketball, when I wrote this article, was No. 29 here.

The Orange, this off-season, has brought in those three quality transfers. But departing the program have been Edwards, senior guard Symir Torrence to Binghamton and senior shooting guard Joe Girard III to Clemson. Redshirt junior big man John Bol Ajak is also in the transfer portal.

Meanwhile, Syracuse basketball freshman point guard Judah Mintz is testing the 2023 NBA Draft waters while maintaining his college eligibility. He is participating in the 2023 NBA Draft Combine this week in Chicago.

Next. Syracuse Basketball: A dream 2024 class would look something like this. dark