2024 five-star guard Jalil Bethea from the Philadelph..."/> 2024 five-star guard Jalil Bethea from the Philadelph..."/>

Syracuse basketball misses on 5-star, but 2024 class is in top 10 nationally

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

As expected, 2024 five-star guard Jalil Bethea from the Philadelphia area picked fellow Atlantic Coast Conference team Miami on Wednesday, and understandably, some Syracuse basketball fans are bummed about the news.

The 6-foot-4 Bethea, a consensus top-20 national prospect, had the Orange in his top five not too long ago. He was supposed to take a second official visit to the Hill last weekend but canceled that trip. In recent days, a flood of analyst projections went in the direction of the Hurricanes in Bethea’s recruitment.

Miami is a really good hoops program, and the Hurricanes coaching staff has a lot of deep recruiting connections to the Philly market and Bethea’s AAU program. I’m wishing him all the success in the world in the Sunshine State.

And, yes, ‘Cuse coaches pursued and prioritized Bethea for a long, long time. They devoted a tremendous amount of time and resources to try and prevail for Bethea. This miss stings for sure, but that’s the world of recruiting.

What’s more, the Orange still has plenty of which to feel excited about as it pertains to the team’s senior recruiting cycle.

Syracuse basketball has verbal commitments from two excellent 2024 prospects.

In May, 2024 four-star power forward Donnie Freeman from Washington, D.C., verbally committed to the Orange. This past January, New York City four-star shooting guard Elijah Moore gave a verbal pledge to the ‘Cuse, the team’s first in 2024.

In early July, the 6-foot-9 Freeman scored All-EYBL honors as the Washington-based Team Takeover claimed the Peach Jam’s 17U crown on Nike’s circuit. This spring and summer, the 6-foot-4 Moore earned offensive MVP honors as he averaged 19.6 points per game and shot 46.3 percent from deep for the 17U team of the Bronx, N.Y.-based Wiz Kids in the Adidas 3SSB league.

Recently, 247Sports updated its 2024 national rankings. Freeman checked in at No. 28 overall and No. 6 at power forward. Moore, who generally speaking is vastly underrated in this class, arrived at No. 52 nationally and No. 10 at shooting guard.

The point here is that Syracuse basketball has verbal commitments from a pair of talented 2024 players. When I wrote this column, the Orange’s senior cycle was ranked around No. 10 nationwide, according to the 247Sports Web site, Rivals.com and the On3 Web site.

Several recruiting experts have told me that Freeman could be a McDonald’s All-American candidate during the upcoming 2023-24 season. He is spending his senior year at the powerhouse IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., which competes in the loaded 10-member National Interscholastic Basketball Conference (“NIBC”).

If Freeman shines at IMG, I could envision him making a run at five-star status in this cycle. Moore, meanwhile, will suit up in his senior stanza for the Our Saviour Lutheran School in the Bronx, which is part of the Atlanta-based professional league Overtime Elite. That will give him a lot of national exposure, similar to Freeman playing in the NIBC.

Do I wish that Jalil Bethea verbally committed to Syracuse basketball? Of course. We all do. But the Orange’s 2024 class still has tons of promise.

Plus, let’s remember that the ‘Cuse, in 2023-24, has 13 scholarship players, a bunch of guards, and no seniors on its roster. It’s likely that a couple of current players will either head to the pro ranks after the upcoming season, or hit the NCAA’s transfer portal. However, I wasn’t envisioning the Orange to possess more than two or three high-school prospects in its senior cycle.

With Bethea off the table, I’m not aware of any 2024 prospects that Syracuse basketball coaches are presently pursuing. And that’s okay. The team has a deep backcourt now and (fingers crossed) heading into the 2024-25 stanza.

"In an article from earlier this week, 247Sports national basketball director Eric Bossi wrote of the ‘Cuse 2024 class, “This may be the first year of the Adrian Autry-era at Syracuse, but the Orange would have been hard pressed to find a coach with a better understanding of what does and doesn’t work in Syracuse. He’s kept the pipeline to Washington DC open and landed a deadeye shooter. Both of these players have length and are just scratching the surface of their potential. … Donnie Freeman is the DC guy. He’s a long, versatile and athletic four man who can really cause problems for his opponents because of his quickness and unpredictability. Meanwhile Moore, aka “Choppa”, is an elite jump shooter who has in-the-gym range when it comes to letting open shots fly.”"

Sounds good to me.

Next. Syracuse Orange: Looking at On3 NIL Valuations of top-five ‘Cuse players. dark