Syracuse Basketball: Once-heralded, six-member 2022 class has basically gone away

Syracuse basketball had a six-member 2022 class filled with 4-star commits, but that 'Cuse cycle is now basically gone.
Syracuse basketball had a six-member 2022 class filled with 4-star commits, but that 'Cuse cycle is now basically gone. / Bryan Bennett/GettyImages

In October of 2021, then-head coach and Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim made some pretty sizable comments about the Syracuse basketball 2022 recruiting class.

While I took those comments from Boeheim with the proverbial grain of salt, the Orange's 2022 cycle did hold a lot of promise. At the time of Boeheim's comments, the 'Cuse had five commitments in this class.

The following spring, in late March of 2022, point guard Judah Mintz would commit to Syracuse basketball, giving this Orange cycle six members and a national ranking that hovered around No. 20 overall, according to multiple recruiting services.

Currently, that 'Cuse 2022 class has basically evaporated. It's a sign of the times in college basketball, given the transfer portal's explosion. It's also a huge bummer, in my humble opinion.

Syracuse basketball has seen a bunch of its players hit the portal.

Last month, the Orange's 2023-24 season ended at 20-12 overall. Under first-year head coach Adrian Autry, the 'Cuse tallied 20 regular-season wins for the first instance in a decade, but Syracuse basketball also missed the NCAA Tournament for the third straight stanza.

The transfer portal opened for business on Monday, March 18, and the current window will run for 45 days. At least five players on the Orange's 2023-24 roster have either entered the portal or plan to, according to media reports and analysts.

Those Syracuse basketball players are sophomore big man Maliq Brown, sophomore center Peter Carey, sophomore guard/wing Quadir Copeland, sophomore guard/wing Justin Taylor, and junior forward Benny Williams, who was dismissed from the program in early February.

Four of those guys are from the team's 2022 class - Brown, Carey, Copeland and Taylor. All that now remains from that cycle, at least when I wrote this column, were Mintz and sophomore small forward Chris Bell.

If I had to venture a guess, I would guess that Mintz is going to test the 2024 NBA Draft process, much as he did after his freshman year on the Hill. If he doesn't come back for his junior season with the 'Cuse, within the Orange's once-promising 2022 cycle, all that would potentially be left is Bell.

In high school rankings, Mintz, Bell, Copeland and Taylor were all ranked four stars by at least one recruiting service. Brown, significantly underrated coming out of his Virginia high school, was three stars, and so was Carey.

Candidly, I wasn't too surprised that Carey is transferring. He barely played in 2023-24. The same goes for Taylor, who struggled with his shooting. But Brown and Copeland deciding to transfer did surprise me, at least a little bit.

Brown, named to the All-ACC defensive team, was arguably the most important player for Syracuse basketball this past season, due to his versatility in the front court. Copeland, meanwhile, finished at No. 2 in the voting for the Atlantic Coast Conference's sixth man of the year in 2023-24.

Then again, I do not know the behind-the-scenes context as to why these guys are transferring out. In the case of Brown, he became the Orange's starting center after junior Naheem McLeod suffered a season-ending injury.

Were 'Cuse coaches wanting Brown to again play center in 2024-25, when he's more of a power forward? Additionally, another power forward is coming on board for next season, and he is Syracuse basketball 2024 five-star commit Donnie Freeman, a top-10 national prospect.

Would Brown and Freeman have to split up some of the minutes, so to speak, in 2024-25, especially if Brown preferred not to be in the center spot? Can Freeman, who has a solid handle and 3-point shot, play small forward? What does that mean for Bell?

This is all speculation here, and Orange coaches have to sort out roster construction, rotations and the like before 2024-25 commences.

Due to the transfer portal, NIL, conference realignment and other factors, Syracuse basketball and its peers around the country will likely witness significant roster make-overs year after year. It is what it is.

I'm just a little deflated about this once-heralded 'Cuse 2022 class that, by and large, has withered away in Central New York.

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