Three Year Roster Breakdown

We breakdown what the Syracuse basketball roster could look like over the next three seasons.

The 2014-15 Syracuse basketball season came to an unceremonious end on Saturday, with the Orange falling 71-57 to NC State to finish the year 18-13 (9-9). Looking ahead, the roster will likely look significantly different each year going forward.

2015-16

There are lots of rumblings about potential transfers going into next year. Kaleb Joseph, Chinonso Obokoh, B.J. Johnson and Ron Patterson’s names have all been mentioned. Neither Joseph nor Obokoh are likely candidates.

Joseph will be the only pure point guard on the roster next season, meaning Syracuse needs him to hold down that spot. Yes offseason development is critical, as he struggled throughout his true freshman campaign. But again, he will be the only pure point guard on the roster. Having Michael Gbinije play 35-plus minutes there is not an ideal situation.

Obokoh is needed for frontcourt depth. He showed he is still very raw this season, but there is upside there. Another offseason of development could mean he will be much more ready than he was this year.

That leaves Patterson and Johnson. Both had minimal roles this season and playing time was erratic to say the least. Johnson started to carve himself out a role over the last several games, but has he been recruited over? Have both of them?

Syracuse has four talented freshmen coming in next season, two of which play in the backcourt. Those two are Malachi Richardson and Franklin Howard. Richardson is a McDonald’s All-American who has length, sharp shooting ability and a knack for scoring the basketball.

Richardson could play the two or the three, leaving one to wonder if he will take Johnson’s role. Similarly, Howard comes in as a combo-guard that Syracuse is trying to make a point guard. His skill set suggests that is very possible, but will join a crowded guard situation.

If no one leaves, Patterson, Howard, Joseph, Trevor Cooney and Richardson will all be vying for playing time. Patterson could see that jumble and decide to move on.

Neither leaving is a sure thing nor is it official. But for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume they transfer.

Under the assumption that both end up leaving, the roster still has a lot of talent. Chris McCullough and DaJuan Coleman should be back from injury. Tyler Roberson has another offseason of development to get a little stronger.

There are plenty of reasons to think Syracuse could be back on the national scene. Here is a look at the potential rotation.

UPDATE: Both B.J. Johnson and Ron Patterson are officially transferring.

Starters

PG: Kaleb Joseph
SG: Trevor Cooney
SF: Michael Gbinije
PF: Chris McCullough
C: DaJuan Coleman

Reserves

PF Tyler Roberson
SG/SF Malachi Richardson
C Chinonso Obokoh
PG/SG Franklin Howard
PF/C Moustapha Diagne
SF/PF Tyler Lydon

This roster has a lot of versatility. McCullough can play power forward or center. Gbinije can play point guard, shooting guard or small forward. Roberson can come off the bench to play small forward or power forward. Richardson can provide depth at small forward or shooting guard. Diagne can play power forward or center. Lydon can play either forward spot while Howard can play either guard position.

Another interesting scenario is having Gbinije start at point guard. That may not be the best situation longterm, as Joseph will need to play significant minutes there, but Gbinije could be the starter with Roberson or Richardson starting.

There is a lot of unproven talent there, but talent nonetheless.

Lastly, this roster was put together under the assumption that Thomas Bryant ends up elsewhere, which seems to be the most likely scenario.

2016-17

The first year the NCAA sanctions are felt is this one. Syracuse will have to get their roster down to 10 scholarship players. From the season prior, only Cooney and Gbinije will graduate. That drops the team down to nine returning players. However, it is very unlikely that McCullough returns for his junior year barring his game falling apart or another injury.

Assuming neither of those happen, he will declare for the NBA Draft and forego his final two seasons of eligibility. That leaves Syracuse with eight players for 2016-17 in Joseph, Coleman, Roberson, Richardson, Obokoh, Howard, Diagne and Lydon. Syracuse already has one player committed in the 2016 class in forward Matthew Moyer.

Moyer would give Syracuse nine scholarship players, leaving one slot available as the Orange look to recruit the 2016 cycle. That slot will be saved for five-star Tyus Battle, who Syracuse covets.

Despite only having 10 scholarships available, the addition of Battle would still mean Syracuse has talent and depth at every position. Given head coach Jim Boeheim’s propensity to play only seven or eight guys, that seems to mean Syracuse should be fine moving forward even with the scholarship reduction.

In fact, the depth over the next two seasons means Boeheim may break that mold and play more nine or ten guys.

If Syracuse misses on Battle, Syracuse will still pursue a point guard in the 2016 class. Assistant Mike Hopkins recently visited Rochester product Quinton Rose, who Syracuse has stayed in contact with for months. Rose, or four-star Jamal Murray, could jump to the forefront if Battle goes elsewhere.

Regardless, a guard would be needed for the 2016-17 season, and Syracuse will recruit accordingly. Here’s a look at how the roster is shaping up if Battle is Orange.

Starters

PG: Tyus Battle
SG: Malachi Richardson
SF: Tyler Lydon
PF: Tyler Roberson
C: DaJuan Coleman

Bench

PG Kaleb Joseph
PG/SG Franklin Howard
PF/C Moustapha Diagne
C Chinonso Obokoh
SF Matthew Moyer

Even if Battle comes and does not start, he will play a lot of minutes. But it is likely he takes the reigns right away. Lydon gives Syracuse some versatility to play either forward position, meaning Syracuse could go small with him at the four and having Richardson play the three with Battle and Joseph in the backcourt. Battle can play the point or the two, as can Howard.

With the scholarship limitations, versatility is needed and this roster has plenty of that. Diagne would be the primary backup at center and power forward and likely see plenty of minutes.

If Syracuse misses on Battle, Joseph or Howard is inserted as the starting point guard with the other as the primary backup.

2017-18

This is where things get very interesting. Kaleb Joseph would be a senior, assuming he sticks around. Richardson, Lydon, Howard and Diagne would be entering their junior seasons assuming none of them look elsewhere. Battle or another class of 2016 guard would be a sophomore, though Battle would have a chance to be one and done potentially.

But for this exercise, let’s assume Battle stays for a second year.

Gone will be Coleman, Roberson and Obokoh. That leaves three scholarships available for the 2017 recruiting class, if there is no attrition elsewhere. Currently, Syracuse has two offers out in that cycle. One to five-star point guard Trevon Duval and the other to four-star wing Jordan Tucker.

But with the loss of three frontcourt players, Syracuse would likely pursue some help up front, likely a center that could play right away. Three players stick out as potential prospects the Orange could target.

The first is five-star center Mohamed Bamba from Pennsylvania. He is a long, lean type who needs to bulk up, but is very skilled and athletic. Four-star Nicholas Richards is from New Jersey, and has nice size at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds. Dajour Dickens is another 6-foot-11 prospect with athleticism. He hails from Virginia, where Syracuse has recruited well in the past.

Syracuse may also go after a combo forward similar to Lydon that can play small or power forward. Tucker may not fit that mold, but if Syracuse takes him, Lydon and Diagne could play there if needed. If Matthew Moyer bulks up significantly, he could fill into that role as well. A class of Duval, Tucker and one of the aforementioned centers would give them a well-rounded roster.

Here is what the 2017-18 roster could look like if no one leaves early.

Starters

PG: Tyus Battle
SG: Malachi Richardson
SF: Tyler Lydon
PF: Matthew Moyer
C: Moustapha Diagne

Bench

PG/SG Franklin Howard
PG Kaleb Joseph
PF/C Freshman
PG/SG Freshman
SF/PF Freshman

This is very interesting. The five starters look to be very strong if everyone develops. The bench of Howard and Joseph is intriguing, but will force the Orange to rely on at least one true freshman for frontcourt depth. Lydon and Moyer could play either forward spot, but there is no depth behind them and Diange.

If someone were to leave early, whether that’s Joseph after three seasons, Battle after one, Richardson after two, or another scenario, it opens up even more recruiting slots for the 2017 class.

While that cycle has a lot of talent, it puts Syracuse in a position where they have to significantly rely on true freshman.

This is all under the assumption that Syracuse’s appeal of the NCAA sanctions is not won. There is a possibility, however, that Syracuse could have the scholarship reductions decreased, which would give them more talent to work with each season starting with 2016-17.


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