Syracuse basketball gives Kansas guard ‘best chance to compete for’ title

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) /

It has proven quite a busy and encouraging week for Syracuse basketball.

The Orange coaching staff picked up not one, but two, players via the NCAA’s transfer portal over the past week or so, and the ‘Cuse has certainly solidified its roster ahead of the 2023-24 season.

Last Monday, Florida State big-man transfer Naheem McLeod said he would move to Syracuse basketball. The Philadelphia native, a 7-foot-4 sophomore, provides the Orange with additional depth at center after senior Jesse Edwards left for West Virginia.

Then on Thursday, the Orange coaching staff bolstered its backcourt when Kyle Cuffe Jr., a redshirt freshman guard at Kansas, said he would transfer to Syracuse basketball. It’s unclear at this juncture whether freshman point guard Judah Mintz will stay in the 2023 NBA Draft or return for his sophomore year.

The Orange coaching staff landing the 6-foot-2 Cuffe, who is from Harlem, N.Y., could be an indication that Syracuse basketball doesn’t think Mintz will return. Either way, ‘Cuse coaches have now added four promising transfers this spring, with the other two being Notre Dame freshman guard J.J. Starling and Auburn freshman guard Chance Westry.

Syracuse basketball recruited new commit Kyle Cuffe Jr. in high school.

Similar to McLeod, Starling and Westry, the ‘Cuse coaching staff is familiar with Cuffe, having recruited him a few years back.

Cuffe was a four-star prospect in the 2021 recruiting cycle, according to some recruiting services. He was a standout at the Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J., and ran on the AAU circuit with the Bronx, N.Y.-based PSA Cardinals in Nike’s EYBL league.

According to media reports and recruiting services, Cuffe attended the Orange’s annual Elite Camp in 2019. While in high school, his offer sheet included Kansas, UCLA, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Rutgers, Georgetown, Bryant, Georgia, Providence, UConn, Seton Hall and St. John’s, among others., within the 2021 class, rated him as four stars and No. 111 nationally. Over at 247Sports, Cuffe was placed as four stars and No. 109 nationwide. By the way, while in high school, he ultimately decided to reclassify up from the 2022 cycle into the 2021 class.

In early May, reports said that Cuffe had entered the transfer portal. Per an article from On3 national analyst Joe Tipton, this off-season Cuffe garnered interest from other teams including Richmond, Tulane, Pacific, Grand Canyon, Western Kentucky and New Mexico State.

While with Kansas in 2021-22, Cuffe took a redshirt and practiced with the team, which captured the 2022 national championship.

This past season, in 2022-23 as a redshirt freshman, Cuffe only appeared in two games before suffering an unfortunate knee injury, tearing his MCL and PCL. Per reports, he took a medical redshirt in 2022-23 and has four years of college eligibility left.

Regarding his recent commitment to the Orange, Cuffe said to college basketball insider Adam Zagoria, “Syracuse University gives me a chance to be closer to home and the best chance to compete for a national title playing under a great coach and great teammates.”

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