If Syracuse basketball wants to make Big Dance, it must hold on to 4-star Eddie Lampkin

Syracuse basketball is trying to hold on to 4-star transfer center Eddie Lampkin Jr.; 'Cuse needs him to make the Big Dance.
Syracuse basketball is trying to hold on to 4-star transfer center Eddie Lampkin Jr.; 'Cuse needs him to make the Big Dance. / Alex Martin / Journal and Courier / USA

I sincerely hope that the situation regarding Syracuse basketball commit Eddie Lampkin Jr. is sorted out sooner rather than later.

Candidly, it's getting old. I am not throwing shade at all toward the 6-foot-11, 265-pound Lampkin, a four-star transfer and Colorado senior center who pledged to the Orange in early April.

He has to do what's best for him, and if that's staying at the 'Cuse, great. If that means moving on, so be it. I wish him well. For his sake, the sake of the Orange staff, and the sanity of the Syracuse basketball fan base, this needs to get resolved. Now.

Syracuse.com's Brent Axe and Mike Waters have reported that Orange coaches were planning to meet with Lampkin on Thursday to wrap up an agreement to keep him on the 'Cuse roster for the 2024-25 season.

Over the past two seeks, social media and SU chat rooms have been discussing Lampkin at length. Is he staying? Is he going? Are other schools pursuing him? Is a name, image and likeness deal the main sticking point here?

I do not know the answers to these questions. What I do know is that the Syracuse basketball staff deserves to know as soon as possible where Lampkin stands. If he's headed elsewhere, Orange coaches can regroup as they continue to build out their roster for 2024-25.

Syracuse basketball is trying to hold on to four-star transfer center Eddie Lampkin Jr.

By extension, and I hope this isn't the case, but if Lampkin isn't going to remain committed to the 'Cuse, that becomes a real issue as the Orange attempts to get back to the NCAA Tournament after missing the annual Big Dance in three straight campaigns.

For one, while college coaches continue to recruit out of the transfer portal this off-season, Lampkin is the presumed starter at center for Syracuse basketball in the upcoming term. If he's leaving, then it will prove challenging for 'Cuse coaches to find another high-level center via the portal this late in the game.

This off-season, seven players from the team's 2023-24 roster have hit the portal, while sophomore point guard Judah Mintz is headed to this summer's NBA Draft. Five 2023-24 players are expected to return, and the Orange's 2024 recruiting class features two high school seniors and three college transfers, including Lampkin, who averaged 10.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game at Colorado a season ago.

At this juncture, the 'Cuse has three scholarships open for 2024-25. Putting Lampkin to the side for a second, I believe the team's biggest remaining off-season needs could include finding another combo guard, a 3-point specialist out on the wing, and a big man who can play both power forward and center.

Currently, the only two centers on the Orange's 2024-25 roster are Lampkin and rising senior Naheem McLeod, who only appeared in 14 games as a junior before suffering an injury. I supposed that incoming five-star freshman Donnie Freeman from Washington, D.C., could play some spot minutes at center as well, but he's more of a power forward and also new to the collegiate level.

This is why losing Maliq Brown, Peter Carey, Mounir Hima and William Patterson to the portal stings. Brown is more of a power forward but can play center. Carey and Hima didn't play much at all in 2023-24, while Patterson took a redshirt.

However, bringing back any of these guys for 2024-25 would have provided critical depth at the center position. For now, Syracuse basketball is rolling with Lampkin, McLeod and maybe Freeman.

While it's entirely possible that the Orange will add another center regardless, the 'Cuse staff really needs to hold on to Lampkin. Otherwise, I fear that the notion of Syracuse basketball making the 2025 March Madness would prove nothing more than a pipe dream.

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