Could Syracuse basketball 5-star priority Jalil Bethea visit Duke, Kentucky?

Syracuse basketball, Jalil Bethea (Syndication: Bucks County Courier Times)
Syracuse basketball, Jalil Bethea (Syndication: Bucks County Courier Times) /

Syracuse basketball coaches are reportedly preparing to host 2024 five-star guard Jalil Bethea from the Philadelphia area on a second official visit in mid-September, and the top-20 national prospect is also officially visiting other finalists as well in the coming weeks.

The 6-foot-4 Bethea has a top five of the Orange, Alabama, Kansas, Miami and Villanova. His first in a string of official visits is expected to occur at the end of this month, when he makes a trip to Kansas.

Not too long ago, word broke that blue-blood programs Duke and Kentucky are showing some level of interest in Bethea, who is arguably the hottest prospect in the senior class due to his stellar play this spring and summer on the AAU circuit and at other showcase events.

The ‘Cuse coaching staff has prioritized Jalil Bethea pretty much as long as any of his five finalists, offering him a scholarship in late September of 2022. He took an official visit to the Hill the following month, when Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim was still in charge in Central New York.

That first-year head coach Adrian Autry and his staff have landed a second official visit from Bethea is massive, but the competition to prevail here is hefty, regardless of what the deal is with Duke and Kentucky in his recruitment.

Syracuse basketball five-star target Jalil Bethea recently discussed interest from Duke and Kentucky.

A couple of days ago, Bethea chatted about his recruiting process with David Sisk of Cats Illustrated on the network. Regarding his top five and this interest from the Blue Devils and Kentucky, Bethea said, “I really wouldn’t say it changes things, but it definitely makes me think about it more.”

When asked whether he may take official visits to Duke and Kentucky, Bethea told Sisk, “maybe.”

Based on this interview, my takeaway is that both Duke and Kentucky would heavily pursue Jalil Bethea if he informs these two schools that he has high interest in them. So we’ll see how this all shakes out.

In recent years, as I’ve extensively covered Syracuse basketball recruiting, I’ve come across comments on many occasions from fellow ‘Cuse fans that speak to the frustration they have with the Orange coaching staff prioritizing a five-star player for a long time, and then a blue-blood such as Duke or Kentucky swoops in late and wins out. I get it.

I hope that’s not the case here. For one, Jalil Bethea has recently said in some interviews that his relationship with Autry and his assistants has only grown since Autry replaced the retiring Boeheim this past March.

At present, it looks like the Orange is the only one of his finalists that is getting two official visits, although admittedly, the first ‘Cuse trip was a while ago. But Autry & Co. have put on a full-court press for Bethea for months, watching his high school and AAU games, as well as visiting with him in the Philadelphia region.

There are no analyst predictions on the 247Sports Web site, or the On3 Web site for the time being.

Recently, I’ve talked to numerous national recruiting analysts and scouts about Jalil Bethea, and the sense is that heading into his upcoming official visits to the ‘Cuse and other finalists, Syracuse basketball is in a good spot and could even be deemed as an extremely slight “leader.”

At the same time, how these official visits go will provide more clarity. Some of these experts have also told me that it’s difficult to gauge right now how the Duke and Kentucky interest could impact the Orange’s chances and the overall recruiting process for Jalil Bethea, who is an All-American rising senior at Archbishop Wood Catholic High School in Warminster, Pa., as well as a standout for the Philadelphia-based Team Final in Nike’s EYBL league.

Earlier this month, national analyst Rob Cassidy discussed Bethea’s upcoming official visits, and he said to monitor his trip to fellow Atlantic Coast Conference team Miami on September 8, which is a week before his second official visit to Syracuse basketball.

"Wrote Cassidy, “At this juncture, Miami shouldn’t be seen as the the leader in the Bethea Sweepstakes because Villanova, Syracuse and Kansas are also worth monitoring closely. In fact, those four schools feel grouped together in a tight pack of sorts with Alabama being the dark horse in the race. More separation should set in when fall visits begin, however. Bethea’s trip to Coral Gables (along with his trip to Kansas the weekend before) will help set the pace for the final leg of his recruitment.”"

Jalil Bethea, who some recruiting experts have told me could push the top five in the 2024 class, told Cats Illustrated that he’s eyeing a commitment announcement “in either late November or early December.”

Should be a fun few months for Orange fans (insert sarcasm here).

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