Syracuse Basketball: Biggest needs this off-season for 'Cuse ahead of 2024-25 term

The transfer portal is open, the craziness has begun, and we look at the biggest potential needs for Syracuse basketball.
The transfer portal is open, the craziness has begun, and we look at the biggest potential needs for Syracuse basketball. / Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The transfer portal opened on Monday, the craziness has ensued, and Syracuse basketball fans are wondering what the team's 2024-25 roster will end up looking like.

Since the portal just opened up, and runs for 45 days, we'll have to see how everything shakes out in the coming days and weeks. Already, at least two Orange players are hitting the portal, although as I should state here, they can return to the Hill if they don't like what interest they receive in the portal.

In the 2023-24 stanza, when the 'Cuse finished 20-12 overall and 11-9 in Atlantic Coast Conference competition, the Orange had 13 scholarship players, none of whom are seniors. The 'Cuse has two incoming freshmen for next season.

What are the Orange's biggest needs this off-season via the portal? It's tough to say definitively, because we'll have to monitor what other 'Cuse players might decide to transfer (or pursue professional opportunities). But I do have some thoughts here about what SU coaches are likely to focus on ahead of 2024-25.

The biggest needs for Syracuse basketball this off-season.

This was the Syracuse basketball 2023-24 roster:
•Sophomore point guard Judah Mintz
•Sophomore guard J.J. Starling
•Sophomore small forward Chris Bell
•Junior forward Benny Williams
•Junior center Naheem McLeod
•Sophomore guard Chance Westry
•Sophomore guard/small forward Justin Taylor
•Sophomore guard/small forward Quadir Copeland
•Redshirt sophomore guard Kyle Cuffe Jr.
•Sophomore big man Maliq Brown
•Junior center Mounir Hima
•Sophomore center Peter Carey
•Freshman center William Patterson

The Orange's 2024 high school senior class includes:
•Four-star shooting guard Elijah Moore from New York City
•Five-star power forward Donnie Freeman from Washington, D.C.

During the 2023-24 season, Williams was dismissed from the program. Media reports have stated he is entering the portal. Also in the portal are Taylor and Copeland.

We'll have to see what Mintz ends up doing. He tested the NBA Draft process after his freshman season and certainly could do so again. Might he transfer? That would surprise me.

I expect Starling to return. The same goes for Westry, Cuffe and Brown. What about Bell? I hope he does. Patterson is taking a redshirt for 2023-24, so I would assume he'll be back. But what about the team's other centers, McLeod, Hima and Carey?

This past term, McLeod was the starting center, appearing in 14 games before he suffered an unfortunate season-ending injury. Hima and Carey barely played. I could see one, or both, of them transferring.

McLeod can be an imposing force, particularly on the defensive end, but I do think that Syracuse basketball coaches should pursue an experienced center via the portal who excels on both ends of the floor.

Assuming Brown stays, the Orange is set at power forward, with him and Freeman. If Bell stays, then the 'Cuse is good on the wing in terms of 3-point specialists, between him and Moore. If Bell transfers out, the Orange could look at another strong 3-pointer shooter on the wing as a small forward.

With Copeland and Taylor gone, and Mintz to be determined, I do think that Syracuse basketball coaches are going to look for a veteran point guard/combo guard, and the staff has already reached out to at least one high-scoring guard in the portal.

At this juncture, with three guys (including Williams) in the portal and two incoming freshmen, the Orange is looking at a roster of 12 scholarship players, and I do think it's likely more current players will end up hitting the portal. So there should be more open scholarships available for 2024-25.

To summarize, and of course this is just my opinion, but I think the team's two biggest needs this off-season could entail a veteran point guard/combo guard, especially if Mintz is gone, and an experienced center. The third biggest need, if Bell were to transfer, would then be a wing player who can shoot well from long distance.

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