Syracuse Basketball: Biggest needs for the Orange in transfer portal this off-season

What might the biggest needs be for Syracuse basketball in the transfer portal this off-season? We delve into this topic.
What might the biggest needs be for Syracuse basketball in the transfer portal this off-season? We delve into this topic. / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse basketball (15-9, 6-7 in the ACC), as it prepares to host No. 7 North Carolina on Tuesday night, has seven regular-season games left in its 2023-24 campaign, before the ACC Tournament gets going in our nation’s capital.

The Orange, at this juncture, isn’t all that close to the proverbial bubble for this spring’s 2024 NCAA Tournament, although if the ‘Cuse can start stringing together some league victories, perhaps Syracuse basketball can enter the bracketology conversation following a two-year absence from March Madness.

This column in no way suggests that I’m writing off the rest of 2023-24 for the Orange. Not in the least.

At the same time, in engaging with other fans on social media lately, a lot of folks are wondering just what the ‘Cuse roster might look like next season, and what Orange coaches could end up doing in the transfer portal once 2023-24 wraps up.

According to media reports, the transfer portal opens for business on Monday, March 18. It will be interesting to see who, if any, current ‘Cuse players hit the portal.

Syracuse basketball doesn’t have any seniors on its 2023-24 roster.

The Orange’s line-up, this term, has included 13 scholarship players, although junior forward Benny Williams was recently dismissed from the program, so he won’t be playing for the ‘Cuse in the future.

In 2024-25, with no seniors on the current roster, that would bring Syracuse basketball down to 12 scholarship players, with two incoming freshmen in the team’s 2024 recruiting class, five-star power forward Donnie Freeman and four-star shooting guard Elijah Moore.

As such, at least for the time being, that means the Orange would be over the NCAA-allotted maximum of 13 scholarship players.

However, given the transfer portal’s explosion, I’m fairly certain that the current ‘Cuse roster is going to experience a roster make-over ahead of 2024-25, just like the majority of its peers around the country will.

In any event, here is what the 2024-25 roster would consist of, not factoring in any transfers in or out of the program this off-season:

Guards (4)
Sophomore Judah Mintz
Sophomore J.J. Starling
Redshirt sophomore Kyle Cuffe Jr.
Incoming freshman Elijah Moore

Wings (Guards/Small Forwards, 4)
Sophomore Justin Taylor
Sophomore Quadir Copeland
Sophomore Chance Westry
Sophomore Chris Bell

Power Forwards (2)
Sophomore Maliq Brown
Incoming freshman Donnie Freeman

Centers (4)
Junior Naheem McLeod
Junior Mounir Hima
Sophomore Peter Carey
Freshman William Patterson

Okay, I have no inside information here, but I assume that Mintz will be gone after this season. He tested the 2023 NBA Draft waters, and I can’t envision him returning to the Hill for a junior year, regardless of his projected forecast for the 2024 NBA Draft this summer.

As it pertains to leaving the Hill early for the professional ranks, could another Syracuse basketball player or two do that after this season? Starling and Brown have played well of late, yet I’m not sure either is going to show up in mock drafts for this summer.

In terms of current roster members, who might leave Central New York after 2023-24? I'm not a huge fan of speculating about guys who may bolt, but I’d be surprised if at least one or two players don’t transfer out.

If we’re talking about the Orange’s biggest needs this upcoming off-season in the portal, my thoughts here are two-fold: a true point guard, given that Mintz likely won’t be around in 2024-25, as well as an experienced center.

When it comes to the center spot, McLeod, the starter at this position, appeared in 14 games before injuring his foot, an injury that will keep him out for the remainder of 2023-24.

Hima and Carey haven’t played much, and Carey wasn’t available when the ‘Cuse hosted Clemson due to an upper-body injury that he suffered at a recent practice. It’s likely, but not a guarantee, that Patterson will take a redshirt in 2023-24.

My point here is that the center group ahead of 2024-25 seems a little dicey, so I could see Syracuse basketball coaches mining the portal for a big man.

By the way, 247Sports national writer Isaac Trotter early this week discussed the topic of biggest needs via the portal for high-major conference squads, including the Orange.

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