Syracuse Basketball: If 5-star commits, 2024 class may be No. 1 nationally

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

It’s a big “if,” but if 2024 five-star guard Jalil Bethea from the Philadelphia area ultimately were to verbally commit to Syracuse basketball, that could move the Orange’s rising-senior class into the top five nationally.

The ‘Cuse could even make a run at No. 1 overall, although that’s no guarantee. What’s more, the 6-foot-4 Bethea could propel the Orange’s 2024 class higher up in the short term, but over the longer term, where this ‘Cuse cycle would rate on a national scale would depend on the quality and quantity of its commits, along with what other teams do in 2024.

I get it. This column is pure speculation. But I’m still enjoying the topic. Bethea, a Syracuse basketball priority recruit for a long time, has a final five of the Orange, Alabama, Kansas, Miami and Villanova.

He received a scholarship offer from the ‘Cuse in September of 2022 and took an official visit to the Hill the following month. Bethea will reportedly take a second official visit to the SU campus this coming September.

Syracuse basketball is in the running for 2024 five-star guard Jalil Bethea.

At present, the Orange has two verbal commitments in its rising-senior cycle. In late January, four-star shooting guard Elijah Moore of New York City chose the ‘Cuse over Alabama, Arkansas, Miami and Oklahoma State. He is in the top 60 nationwide, per several recruiting services.

In May, four-star power forward Donnie Freeman of Washington, D.C., picked the Orange over Alabama, Iowa, Texas and Georgia Tech. He hovers around the top 20 to the top 40 of the 2024 class.

When I penned this column on Saturday, the Syracuse basketball 2024 cycle was No. 7 nationally per the industry-generated On3 Industry Ranking, No. 8 at and No. 11 via the industry-generated 247Sports Composite.

To reiterate, it’s no guarantee whatsoever that Bethea heads to the ‘Cuse. The competition is steep, although national analyst Rob Cassidy recently told me that Syracuse basketball is a realistic contender for Bethea.

The Philadelphia-area product is a consensus top-20 national prospect these days. On3 national analyst Jamie Shaw recently said to me that Bethea could push for the top five overall in the 2024 class.

Okay, so when I wrote this column, fellow Atlantic Coast Conference squad North Carolina stood at No. 1 in the 2024 team rankings. The Tar Heels have three verbal commitments, including from five-star New York City guard Ian Jackson, a former Orange recruiting target who has been AAU and high school teammates with Moore.

Several other college groups ahead of the ‘Cuse in the 2024 national ratings have three or even four verbal commitments at this juncture. So Syracuse basketball needs to grab another commitment to further climb.

What’s more, as various other 2024 targets have committed elsewhere or eliminated the Orange from contention in recent months, to the best of my knowledge, the ‘Cuse is solely focused on Bethea to possibly join Moore and Freeman.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that Bethea does end up verbally committing to Syracuse basketball. That is a game-changer. It could, theoretically, jump the Orange’s 2024 class into the top five or maybe even to the top spot.

But a little more context is needed. Bethea, at least for now, is the main remaining recruit for the ‘Cuse in 2024. Plus, the team’s 2023-24 roster has 13 scholarship players, and no seniors. Who knows what’s to happen in the off-season after the 2023-24 campaign, but it’s feasible that Syracuse basketball coaches will only have room for three high-school commits, at a maximum.

This is important to note, because it’s likely some of the top 2024 classes will feature four to five high-school prospects. If the Orange only ends up with three commitments, it should still be highly rated, but it wouldn’t be No. 1 nationwide indefinitely (or maybe ever, if others add more pledges before Bethea even announces his college decision).

Does that matter? Of course not. I’d gladly take a ‘Cuse 2024 cycle of Bethea, Moore and Freeman. It would still, when all is said and done, be ranked in the top five to the top 10 around the country, I believe.

Plus, given that the Orange has had some disappointing team recruiting rankings since transferring to the Atlantic Coast Conference from the Big East Conference in the 2013-14 campaign, I’m adamant that Syracuse basketball recruiting, led by first-year head coach Adrian Autry and his three stellar assistants, is trending in a positive direction.

Now, let’s wrap up a verbal commitment from Jalil Bethea in the coming months (easier said than done) and feel elated about where the Orange’s 2024 class resides in the national landscape.

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