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Peach Jam Brings Syracuse Targets to South Carolina

July 11, 2011 Leave a comment

After the first week of a busy July recruiting season in the books, this week brings the Nike EYBL Peach Jam in South Carolina, perhaps the most high-profile event of the month. It was at this tournament that Michael Carter-Williams exploded in 2010, causing frustration to many fans who would only then find out that he committed to Syracuse eight months prior. Playing guard for BABC, Carter-Williams made a huge splash in his team’s first game, scoring 44 points. Showing his aggressiveness, he also attempted 35 free throws in his first two games. Rakeem Christmas may be the freshman with the easier path to playing time this season, but thinking back to that event brings plenty of excitement over Michael-Carter Williams.

This week’s tournament will bring many of Syracuse’s targets to one gym. The Albany City Rocks feature a pair of players with whom Syracuse fans are already plenty familiar – DaJuan Coleman and Ricardo Ledo. Their pool includes several teams with players who are already committed to Big East schools, if they’re not still being pursued by them, so there may be a glimpse of what is to come in the college ranks.

In a few years, we may look at BABC, Carter-Williams’ old team, as one of the primary conduits for SU talent. I say that because one more target out of the Boston area, Goodluck Okonoboh, will be in action. He’s just a rising high school junior, so he’s still a ways away from his collegiate debut but planting a flag and developing relationships with players before they hit it big is important to recruiters’ chances.

Going back to 2012 targets, forward Jerami Grant is expected to suit up for Team Takeover, perhaps the biggest juggernaut in South Carolina this week. The field is very talented, but in a way, it’s a bit of a shame that there aren’t Team Takeover intrasquad games, because then you could truly see the best going against one another. There’s also Ricardo Gathers, who is now rumored as being a reach for Syracuse due to geographic factors (being from Louisiana), but he’s another big man to keep an eye on.

For the most part, our exposure to these amateur talents is limited to reports from tournaments with questionable levels of competition and YouTube highlight reels set to awful stock hip-hop beats, but the championship of the Peach Jam will be televised Friday night on ESPNU, so keep your fingers crossed that some Syracuse targets help their teams toward the prize.

Recruiting Season Gears Up

July 5, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s already been an eventful offseason for Syracuse basketball. In the spring, we saw Jim Boeheim hint at the idea of Dion Waiters not playing for Syracuse next season (although Waiters’ standing doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy). Later on, Rob Murphy left the team to take his first head coaching job, and DaShonte Riley followed him to Eastern Michigan, the latter of which was all but expected once the former went down. Succeeding Murphy is Adrian Autry, and there remains the possibility of Brian Oliver transferring in from Georgia Tech. In many ways, it’s been a very busy few months.

One area where things have been a little more quiet is the recruiting world, at least as it pertains to Syracuse. Among fans, discussion and speculation runs rampant, and prospects are starting to whittle down their lists, but the fact remains that it’s been 11 months since someone from the high school ranks gave a verbal to Syracuse. As fans of a top-flight program, we’re used to having at least one player in the fold at a relatively early stage. As you all know, Dion Waiters committed to Syracuse before his sophomore year of high school, which may be an extreme case, but it’s also very fresh in our minds. While Brandon Triche didn’t actually commit to SU until September of 2008, there was a feeling that he was a cinch the entire way. James Southerland and Kris Joseph gave their word early on as well, and from the vaunted class of 2007, only Sean Williams waited until his senior season to commit. We could go back even further, but in the interests of brevity, it’s a better idea to move on.

While some may find the lack of a 2012 verbal disconcerting, especially with DaJuan Coleman just down the road and plenty of uncertainty with the current frontcourt personnel, I don’t find myself as worried about the future. There are a couple of reasons for this feeling, but they stem from supply. The 2012 class is notoriously loaded with quantity as well as quality when it comes to the low post. Depending on which of the mainstream recruiting services you prefer, around one-third of the rising senior class consists of power forwards or centers. The class is also top-heavy with big men – going down the lists, one constant is a run of C’s starting right at the top, not too dissimilar from my report cards early in high school. The adage is that quality bigs are hard to find and even harder to develop once they arrive on campus, and while it still holds true, that attitude may be somewhat relaxed when experts look back on the forwards and centers from the class of 2012.

High school prospects can be fickle, of course, but many, including wing target Jerami Grant, are looking to commit to a school before the season starts in the fall in order to eliminate the distraction that choosing a college can present. Just as it is to the players, timing is a factor to recruiters as well. While success in recruiting wars can start at the ground level when it comes to developing relationships, coaches also have to be confident that a high school player’s production isn’t a¬†byproduct¬†of weak competition, which leads us to the summer season. You can find a great breakdown of the biggest tournaments, which start this week and take place all month, at CBS Sports.

While I’m excited for something to pop in the coming weeks, I don’t have any qualms with recruits and coaches alike taking their time.