Syracuse basketball is hitting D.C. market hard in pursuit of 4-stars, 5-stars

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

Over the years, Syracuse basketball coaches have viewed the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore corridor as a priority geographic footprint when it comes to recruiting.

This is nothing new. Orange legend Carmelo Anthony grew up in Baltimore. Another ‘Cuse icon, Dave Bing, is from D.C. Other former Syracuse basketball stars who have ties to either Baltimore or D.C. include Sherman Douglas, Lawrence Moten, Jerami Grant, C.J. Fair and Donte Greene.

More recently, current Orange junior forward Benny Williams is from the Washington metropolitan area, which locals like me refer to as the “DMV.” So, too, is sophomore point guard Judah Mintz. Sophomore wing Justin Taylor is from Charlottesville, Va., but he played AAU ball in our nation’s capital.

So a column here about the ‘Cuse coaching staff being active in the D.C. and Baltimore markets isn’t necessarily a novel concept. That being said, since the spring, Syracuse basketball coaches have, in my opinion, proven particularly aggressive in this corridor, landing one verbal commitment and doling out offers to numerous prospects across the 2024, 2025 and 2026 classes.

Since I grew up near Baltimore and have lived my entire adult life in and around D.C., seeing the Orange pursue a lot of local talent is exciting to me personally. Given the deep recruiting connections that ‘Cuse coaches have in the DMV, this pattern I believe will carry on for a long, long time.

Syracuse basketball is hitting the recruiting trail hard in the Baltimore to D.C. corridor.

In late March, Brenden Straughn joined the ‘Cuse as an assistant coach after most recently serving in a similar capacity at George Washington. Both he and Orange first-year head coach Adrian Autry were previously assistants with the Washington-based Team Takeover in Nike’s EYBL league, a powerhouse AAU program that has sent numerous of its alumni to the Hill.

D.C. product Donnie Freeman, in May, verbally committed to Syracuse basketball. The 2024 four-star power forward, last November, didn’t include the ‘Cuse in his initial top five. However, with Autry at the helm and Straughn on board, they assertively pursued Freeman and prevailed in his recruitment.

In late April, the Orange offered two D.C.-area prospects, 2024 four-star wing Caleb Williams and 2024 five-star center Patrick Ngongba II. The ‘Cuse made the top seven for Williams, but he verbally committed to Georgetown.

Ngongba, at one point, said he wanted to visit Syracuse basketball. His recruitment, though, blew up, and when Ngongba revealed his top eight in July, the Orange didn’t make the cut. Still, these two offers further showed that the ‘Cuse is serious about continuing to make inroads in the DMV.

Dating back to the spring and up until recent weeks, Syracuse basketball coaches have offered scholarships to a variety of 2025 and 2026 players who are from the DMV or the Baltimore region.

In late April, the ‘Cuse offered 2025 five-star point guard Tyler Jackson from Baltimore and 2025 four-star wing Cam Ward. Jackson, who recently committed to the Atlanta-based professional league Overtime Elite for his junior year, is a candidate to officially visit Central New York in the future, recruiting analysts have told me.

Ward is a prolific scorer out of Largo High School in Upper Marlboro, Md. Candidly, I’m not sure how much of a player the Orange is in his recruitment these days.

On June 15, when the contact period opened up for the 2025 class, Syracuse basketball offered four-star combo guard Derek Dixon with Gonzaga College High School in D.C. Dixon has said in interviews that there is mutual interest among him and the ‘Cuse coaching staff to try and work on getting him to the Hill for a visit in the future.

In early May, the Orange offered 2026 five-star shooting guard Jordan Smith Jr. out of St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Chantilly, Va., where Autry was an assistant coach a while back.

Late last month, Syracuse basketball held its annual Elite Camp. To date, the team has offered at least six participants at the camp, including 2026 shooting guard/small forward Prince-Alexander Moody, 2026 point guard Neiko Mundey and 2026 point guard Anthony Brown.

Moody is out of Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Md., Mundey goes to the Shabach Christian Academy in Landover, Md., and Brown is teammates with Smith at St. Paul VI Catholic.

Also, toward the end of August, the ‘Cuse offered 2026 point guard Eric Turner with Calvin Coolidge High School in D.C.

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