Syracuse Basketball: 7-foot-4 center to have immediate impact defensively

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports) /

An expert says that new Syracuse basketball commit Naheem McLeod should have an immediate impact on the defensive end of the floor for the Orange in the upcoming 2023-24 season.

Not too long ago, McLeod, a Florida State big-man transfer, said on Twitter that he was committing to the Orange.

The 7-foot-4 sophomore center, who hails from Philadelphia, has two years of collegiate eligibility remaining. His only official visit since entering the NCAA’s transfer portal last month was to Syracuse basketball.

The Orange coaching staff was focused on landing a center via the transfer portal to round out this position group for the ‘Cuse ahead of this coming term. Senior center Jesse Edwards transferring to West Virginia prompted the Orange to add a fourth center, in McLeod, for 2023-24.

An analyst discusses the skill set of new Syracuse basketball commit Naheem McLeod, an FSU transfer center.

Jordan Cornette, an analyst with the ACC Network, told’s Mike Waters that the Orange certainly will miss Edwards’ presence on both ends of the floor. Cornette, though, says that McLeod “provides instant height and size. He’s a young big man with a lot of potential.”

In the 2022-23 season, the 6-foot-11 Edwards was named to the All-ACC third team after averaging 14.5 points, 10.3 boards, 2.7 blocks, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals per contest.

McLeod, meanwhile, tallied averages of 13.1 minutes, 3.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per encounter while appearing in 28 games as a sophomore for FSU.

"Cornette said of McLeod, “He’s not going to be asked to be a scorer. He can rim-run, alter shots and rebound. He’s not going to dictate or facilitate your offense. Maybe he’ll graduate into that. … But right away he’s going to have an impact defensively.”"

Syracuse basketball head coach Adrian Autry has said that he’s likely to play both man-to-man and zone defenses in the upcoming stanza. At 7-foot-4, McLeod could prove a strong anchor in the middle of the Orange’s zone.

He played at Florida State for two seasons and, before that, one term at Chipola College in Marianna, Fla. As a member of the 2019 recruiting class out of Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., McLeod was rated as a four-star prospect and the No. 25 center in this cycle, according to ESPN.

Looking ahead to 2023-24, McLeod is likely to be the front-runner to get the starting nod at center for the ‘Cuse. The team’s other three centers are sophomore Mounir Hima, freshman Peter Carey, who will take a medical redshirt for the 2022-23 campaign, and 2023 three-star commit William Patterson, who is a senior at The Patrick School in Hillside, N.J.

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