With One Scholarship Left, What Should Syracuse Do?
Before we get into today’s topic, I wanted to follow up with details about the latest edition of Orange Tip-Off. As you may have heard through the grapevine, the preview magazine went on sale Wednesday afternoon, so it’s now available for digital download. Simply follow the link above to Amazon to purchase a copy for $9.99. If you don’t enjoy my drivel, the other writers involved did a fantastic job, and you don’t want to miss it. If you don’t own a Kindle or other e-reader and don’t want to read it on your phone, Amazon has its own Kindle application that you can download and use to read the magazine on your computer. If you already have your copy, I can’t thank you enough and hope you like it enough to spread the word.
With the shameless plug out of the way, let’s move on. Today’s post involves more conjecture into the future than discussing the upcoming campaign, but with this week being dominated by Dajuan Coleman’s announcement and the 2011-12 season fast approaching, there may not be many opportunities to talk about the long-term for awhile.
Assuming Coleman and Jerami Grant stick to their verbal commitments (a safe bet, in my opinion), one scholarship remains for the 2012-13 season. To elaborate, Syracuse, like every D-I school in good standing, has 13 scholarships to dole out, so here is the breakdown by class for next season:
Seniors (3): Mookie Jones, James Southerland, Brandon Triche
Juniors (4): C.J. Fair, Fab Melo, Baye Moussa Keita, Dion Waiters
Sophomores (3): Michael Carter-Williams, Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney
Freshmen (2): Dajuan Coleman, Jerami Grant
That adds up to a dozen scholarships, one short of SU’s allotment. It’s worth pointing out here that for the sake of this exercise, I’m also assuming that between now and next fall, no defections via early draft entry or otherwise throw the math into uncertainty. A lot can change in a season’s time, but we can cross that bridge when it comes. So here’s the million-dollar question: What does Syracuse do with its one remaining scholarship for the 2012-13 season?
Fortunately for the Orange, the staff doesn’t have to do anything with its lone remaining scholly. Everywhere you look on the roster, there’s heavy depth, with no glaring need. To boot, only 12 players are under scholarship this season, according to College Hoops Update. It’s possible that the 13th will be used to reward a hard-working walk-on, as was the case last recently with Brandon Reese. To determine if, and how SU would best be served in adding to its depth chart, a good starting point would be to lay out the cards by position for the season to follow.
Guards (5): Carter-Williams, Cooney, Jones, Triche, Waiters
Small Forwards (3): Fair, Grant, Southerland
Power Forwards/Centers (4): Christmas, Coleman, Melo, Keita
So let’s get our analysis on. The backcourt is, for the most part, set. The stable of shooting guards is sufficiently deep, featuring Brandon Triche, Trevor Cooney and Dion Waiters. At the point, Michael Carter-Williams figures to take the keys from Scoop Jardine with Triche available to fill in (though more on this later). At the wing, Fair will hopefully be ready for full-time duty, with Grant and Southerland on hand to spell him. Maybe Southerland emerges this season, but otherwise, it’s rather push-button. Lastly, the zone’s anchors could be as rock-solid a group as we’ve seen under Jim Boeheim when all is said and done. There’s simply no need for the staff to pursue any more frontcourt players.
So let’s return to the backcourt. There are capable scorers left and right, but what about distributors behind Carter-Williams? Triche showed that he’s capable of running the point in his freshman year and for the brief periods when Jardine rested. By this point, however, Triche will be a senior, and my long-held belief is that Boeheim wants to keep him in that off-ball role. This, then, begs the question of available point guards in the high school ranks.
One quick look at ESPNU’s Top 100 will leave you with one answer – there isn’t one to be found there. Of the top 50 point guards as rated by the Worldwide Leader, You’d have to dig a little deeper, and to stumble across a geographically sensible target, you’d have to go all the way down to something called a “Jarryn Skeete,” a 6’2″, two-star recruit from Ontario. In case you’re wondering, no, I hadn’t heard of him, either, until I did the research for this post.
If you are like me and believe that the only foreseeable area of need (and I use the word “need” loosely) involves taking out some additional point guard insurance, you would probably rather see SU’s staff just pocket the scholarship after looking at the options. The point guards in the class of 2012 who are still on the board aren’t exactly on a level where high-caliber programs are battling it out for their services. Of the top 50 floor generals in the class, only ten are still uncommitted, and Skeete is surrounded on the list by kids who are verbally committed to schools like South Carolina, UC Santa Barbara, Illinois State and Manhattan. Thanks, but no thanks.
So if the staff wants to call it good by having Triche back up Carter-Williams in his senior season when he isn’t playing as the off-guard, what about simply aiming for the top overall talent who was recently linked to Syracuse through Hakim Warrick – Amile Jefferson? Well, things have reportedly been pretty quiet between Jefferson and the Orange, and with Fair and Grant in tow for Syracuse, Jefferson will probably shift his focus towards schools with court time to offer. SU doesn’t look like a fit here, at least not right now.
The situation could always change. Would anyone be that surprised if Mookie Jones and/or Dion Waiters finally decided to jet? I could deal with a mass exodus fraught with early draft declarations in the aftermath of a national title, but this is a subject perhaps best left if we stick a pin in it and revisit in the spring.
The cost of having one of the most desirable depth charts in program history, amirite?