Syracuse Basketball Recruiting: Early Wish List for Class of 2015 Prospects
Jim Boeheim is off to a great start in putting together his 2015 recruiting class.
The Syracuse coach already has three commitments from high school juniors. Trenton, N.J. 5-star guard Malachi Richardson is joined by 4-star players in forward Tyler Lydon and guard Franklin Howard. With the way the Orange have been turning over players in recent years, these guys will have an impact right away.
Let's have a look at what we can expect from the commits when they arrive on campus as well as which players Boeheim still has his eyes on. How will these players fit in Syracuse, and which others might round out the recruiting class?
So far, Malachi Richardson is the crown jewel of Boeheim's 2015 class.
After the Orange lost most of their scoring options from this past year, where points will come from in 2014-15 is a mystery. Incoming freshmen Kaleb Joseph and Chris McCullough will therefore incur some of the burden to put the ball in the net.
Boeheim is hoping Richardson's arrival in 2015 can alleviate some of those issues. At 6'6", he has great size for a guard, which helps him to be effective at the top of the 2-3 zone. He's adept at handling the ball, which helps him slash past defenders and get to the rim.
Perhaps most importantly, he can hit from the outside. Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com remarked that Richardson "owns a smooth shooting stroke and when the ball falls, it's more than likely to rip the nets."
Considering the lack of options from the outside currently, he can't arrive soon enough.
Clearly, scoring was the focal point of Boeheim's early recruitment, because Franklin Howard is another player who can fill it up.
Per Ditota, Howard had surgery last August to repair a torn ACL, which caused him to miss his junior season of basketball. He said he's been cleared to play but is still working on his leg and getting it stronger.
So his first goal will be to get back into the swing of playing.
After that, he'll be looked to put the ball in the basket and help run the offense. He's been described as a combo guard and expanded upon that title with Ditota: "In the past, I've been kind of a pass-first guy. But I think I'm a natural scorer. I think I do a good job of facilitating for my team. And I think I'm a good decision-maker and a good leader on the floor. And those are big parts of being a point guard. So that would be an easy transition for me."
Like Richardson, Howard has the ability to get into the paint with the dribble and either finish at the rim or pull up for a floater or jumper. He can also make it rain, either by pulling up off the dribble or catching and shooting.
Listed at 6'4", he isn't quite as big as Richardson, but he will still provide length and athleticism at the top of the zone. In 2015, Trevor Cooney will be a senior, and if Joseph is still in town, Boeheim will have a deep stable of athletic guards who can get their own shot and facilitate for others.
Tyler Lydon was the first player to commit to Syracuse for 2015, giving Boeheim the nod way back in October.
At 6'9", he is the only forward in the class so far. That is to be expected, considering the frontcourt is a much deeper position for the Orange right now.
But when he arrives on campus, he's going to be a difference-maker. His 200-pound frame is lean, but he surprises you with his athleticism. His first goal will be to put in some work in the weight room and bulk up a bit.
Lydon is also the type of player that coaches love. Ditota wrote, "Lydon never tires. He runs and runs and runs. He sets screens and makes cuts and posts up. He sprints from end line to end line." He also has the length to jump over players and grab rebounds or block shots.
Since Rakeem Christmas is in his final year and Chris McCullough is a potential one-and-done player, Lydon will likely play a major role early. He'll likely see time at forward and center for the Orange, so his hardworking attitude will pay off as he learns two positions on defense.
He is also versatile in that he can step out and hit a jumper. His inside-out skills and high motor will earn him lots of minutes in Boeheim's system.
As mentioned, Christmas is entering his final season, and we still don't know what to expect from DaJuan Coleman's recovery.
Because of that, Boeheim would love to add a center to his 2015 recruiting class. Thomas Bryant would be a perfect fit as he is from nearby Rochester, N.Y. and was once a teammate of current Orange center Chinonso Obokoh.
Bryant, the 14th player in the ESPN 60, is now cutting his teeth at Huntington Prep in West Virginia. So naturally he's considering an offer from West Virginia as well as from Syracuse, Florida, Ohio State and others.
At 6'10" and 200 pounds, he has the size and length to be a dominant player in the middle of the Syracuse zone. He runs the floor well for a player of his size and displays good timing when attempting to block shots. His offensive repertoire isn't expansive yet, but hey, neither is Dwight Howard's.
Bryant should be the Orange's top big-man target. If he spurns Syracuse, Moustapha Diagne is another center on Boeheim's radar. The 6'9" forward from Sparta, N.J. has already visited Syracuse multiple times and has a high interest in the Orange, per 247Sports.
Derrick Jones would take an already solid recruiting class and make it elite.
The left-hander is a beanpole at 180 pounds, but he will likely add some muscle as his body matures and he spends more time in the weight room. Despite his bony frame, he has tremendous jumping ability and is able to finish dunks above the rim.
He can also pull up off the dribble and shoot it from the outside. His wingspan and athleticism make him dangerous in transition. Adding Jones would give Boeheim another versatile scoring option in the class of 2015.
Per Mike Waters of Syracuse.com, Syracuse and Kentucky are Jones' top choices, with Arizona, Kansas, Villanova and more still in the mix.
If Boeheim lands one of the previously mentioned big men and Jones, Syracuse will be loaded heading into the 2015 season. Recruiting against John Calipari is never an easy task, though, so Orange fans will have to wait and see what happens.
Note: Star rankings courtesy of 247Sports.