Syracuse Basketball: Two of country’s 10 best sophomores wear Orange

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

College basketball insider Andy Katz says two of the best sophomores around the country reside at Syracuse basketball.

Katz, via a recent post on X, named his top-10 sophomores ahead of the 2023-24 campaign, which begins for the Orange on Monday, Nov. 6, when the ‘Cuse will host New Hampshire.

Included on this top-10 list are Syracuse basketball point guard Judah Mintz and guard J.J. Starling, a Central New York native who transferred from Notre Dame to the Orange this past spring.

There are two other names on Katz’s list who are likely familiar to Syracuse basketball recruiting enthusiasts. They are Duke center Kyle Filipowski and UConn center Donovan Clingan, both of whom are former ‘Cuse targets. Clingan, as a freshman, helped Connecticut win the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

Syracuse basketball has two star sophomores in Judah Mintz and J.J. Starling.

The Orange’s 2023-24 roster of 13 scholarship players, by the way, consists of three juniors, nine sophomores and one freshman.

Without question, in preseason prognostications, the Syracuse basketball backcourt, which is filled with sophomores, is getting a lot of buzz, led by Mintz and Starling. But in all fairness, there are multiple other guards on the ‘Cuse roster who can ball.

In recent weeks, many national and Atlantic Coast Conference pundits have bestowed preseason accolades upon both Mintz and Starling. They are both contenders for 2023-24 All-ACC honors, and I believe that Mintz is also a contender for All-America honors in the upcoming stanza.

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Mintz, who is from Fort Washington, Md., was a standout at the powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., before joining the Orange. He was rated a consensus four-star prospect in the 2022 class, with ESPN ranking Mintz in the top 40 nationally.

As a freshman at the ‘Cuse, which went 17-15 overall in the 2022-23 season, he averaged 16.3 points, 4.6 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 2.4 turnovers per game, while hitting on 44.3 percent from the field, 75.1 percent from the free-throw line and 30.3 percent from beyond the arc.

In 2022-23, Mintz was named to the ACC’s All-Freshman team. So, too, was the 6-foot-4, 206-pound Starling.

A star at Baker High School in Baldwinsville, N.Y., Starling played his junior and senior seasons at the juggernaut La Lumiere School in La Porte, Ind. Within the 2022 cycle, Starling was a five-star, top-25 national prospect and a McDonald’s All-American as a senior at La Lumiere.

As a freshman for a struggling Fighting Irish group, he averaged 11.2 points, 2.8 boards and 1.1 assists per encounter, while connecting on 42.1 percent from the field, 29.9 percent from 3-point land and 63.8 percent from the charity stripe.

Syracuse basketball coaches pursued Starling in high school, and he had the Orange in his final five before committing to Notre Dame. When he decided to enter the NCAA’s transfer portal this spring, the ‘Cuse was able to land him rather quickly, in large part due to his strong, long-time relationship with Syracuse basketball first-year head coach Adrian Autry.

Various national experts have deemed that, on paper, the Orange has one of the top backcourts in the country, and the ‘Cuse guard’s group starts with presumed starters Starling and Mintz. Yet Syracuse basketball, in the backcourt, possesses a ton of athleticism, depth and versatility among its numerous guards, and the team’s up-tempo pace in 2023-24 should prove fun to watch.

Next. Syracuse Basketball: ‘Cuse poised for bounce-back season, per Andy Katz. dark