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New Names Pepper Orange Recruiting After EYBL

Scouting the high school ranks can be a crapshoot. Until the last minute, there’s no telling whether a top prospect will hold his rank over the course of the year, where he’ll end up attending college, or how much he’ll grow physically. Every so often, evaluators will run into a case like Anthony Davis, who jetted from an unknown to the top of the rankings and a scholarship at Kentucky during his senior year. To take it one step further, Derrick Williams, after a pedestrian listing on the 2009 scouting rankings, is widely considered to be the #2 talent in next month’s draft following a superb sophomore season at Arizona. Alec Burks committed to Colorado, a school which will never be mistaken for a basketball power, and experienced a growth spurt that led to increased attention from high-major schools. Holding fast to his commitment, Burks, like Williams, enjoyed two standout collegiate seasons and could be looking at a lottery selection.

You never know how things will break, and maybe that’s one reason why not many fans choose not to get wrapped up in recruiting. As for me, I like to have an eye on who could be the next arrivals on SU’s campus. While I won’t live or die with any high schoolers’ word, the unpredictability always keeps things interesting.

Over the holiday weekend, 40 of the nation’s top AAU teams gathered in Los Angeles for the EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) championships. Of those 40, the top 24 go on to the Peach Jam in July, and if that event sounds familiar, it’s where incoming SU guard Michael Carter-Williams made a huge splash with his scoring ability. While DaJuan Coleman was in the gym, there are a couple of new players to keep tabs on after word came out that they have offers from Syracuse:

Jerami Grant, 2012 SF (6’8/210) – After Kris Joseph graduates, the SU will be in acute need of a wing to back up CJ Fair. If you’re a James Southerland backer, I’m sorry if I’ve offended you. Looking towards 2012-2013, the three spot figures to be as shallow as the other two frontcourt spots are deep. Grant exhibits many of the same traits as CJ Fair – a legit motor, excellent leaping ability and a powerful rebounder – but also needs work on his offensive game. He would also fit the recent trend of SU players having basketball in their pedigrees; Grant’s father, Harvey, and his uncle, Horace, had long, successful careers in the pros. To boot, his brother, Jerai, was one of the more underrated players in the ACC last season as a big man at Clemson.

Goodluck Okonoboh, 2013 SF (6’7/180) – It might be worth the scholarship just to see him play against God’s Gift Achiuwa of St. John’s. Hailing from Boston, Okonoboh has the kind of skill set that gives the impression of a frontcourt threat trapped in a wing’s body. He’s a great finisher, dunking whenever he can, which is something that SU fans haven’t seen much of ever since Hakim Warrick graduated. He also runs the floor very well, is a shot-blocking machine and has range out to about 12 feet. It’s tough not to get excited about his potential, especially if he isn’t finished growing yet, but since his recruitment doesn’t figure to heat up too much as he enters his junior season, I’ll have to tread carefully. Still, it can’t hurt that Okonoboh and Michael Carter-Williams share an AAU team.

With zero commitments from the class of 2012 and at least two scholarships at their disposal, Jim Boeheim and his staff have their work cut out for them. Bagging DaJuan Coleman figures to be at or near the top of the coaching staff’s recruiting checklist, but should they misfire, there are fortunately some backup options with the national class weighted heavily towards frontcourt players.

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