Eyes Turn To Recruiting With Grant In-Home Visit
As deep and talented as the current Syracuse team is, full of experience as well as top-flight underclassmen, most of the attention recently has turned to the Orange’s empty list of 2012 recruits. While things have been quiet, you can expect the wheels to start turning again soon. With Friday marking the start of the contact period, when coaches are allowed to make in-home pitches to recruits, the stove is going to heat up. The coaching staff is scheduled to visit with Jerami Grant tomorrow, which means that now is as good a time as any to take a look at what the future may hold and whether the outlook is truly worth being concerned about.
The program has been in this situation a couple of times in recent memory. I found this somewhat surprising, considering Carmelo Anthony’s popularity and visibility to high school basketball players, but after Syracuse won the 2003 title, the team went five months without picking up a commitment from the 2004 class, though Darryl Watkins committed relatively late to suit up in the 2003-04 campaign. In September of 2003, Syracuse picked up verbals from Dayshawn Wright and Josh Wright for the class of ’04. Of course, neither player made it to his senior season at Syracuse, and while both are symbols of a period where the Orange went four seasons without an NCAA Tournament win, I would argue that the lack of development from Terrence Roberts, Watkins and Louie McCroskey is more to blame than the coaching staff whiffing on the class.
Fans may also point to September 2008, when the Orange entered the school year without a commitment from a rising senior in the high school ranks as another precedent, but there wasn’t as much anxiety as there is now. At that point, the program’s standing with Brandon Triche gave the impression of of a sure thing on the recruiting trail and Dion Waiters and C.J. Fair had given their word for the 2010 class, so there was some feel, however nebulous, to what the future portended.
Refocusing to the present, Grant has narrowed his list to three Big East schools in Syracuse, Rutgers and Notre Dame. The Orange has been in on Grant since at least his strong spring, with Rutgers attracting attention more recently and the possibility of playing for Mike Brey a new revelation which rose from conversations Grant had with his brother, Jerian, a freshman at South Bend. While anything is possible, Grant stated over the summer that he intended to make a decision before the start of the season so as not to leave the recruitment process hanging over his head, so it’s reasonable to believe that things are getting close.
Turning to the bigger fish in Dajuan Coleman, despite living in SU’s backyard, his decision may be driven by more complex factors than simple geography and history. For some recruits, immediate playing time is a bigger sticking point than a program’s pedigree, playing style or recent success. When playing time takes priority, recruits will wait out their process to see what a program’s future situation will look like as the season wears on. From all indications, this is how Coleman is approaching his decision, and if he has an eye on getting drafted to the NBA in less than two years from today, I can’t blame him.
While the recruitment process is intriguing, exciting, unclear and frustrating all at the same time, the short-term future is looking terrific. Still, it’s okay to be a little nervous about the current lack of 2012 commitments while being excited about the team as it stands now. If given the choice, however, I’d rather get amped about the 2011-12 team oozing with talent, experience and depth than devour my nails to their roots over players who may or may not pop for the ‘Cuse.