Syracuse assistant Gerry McNamara has been a busy man on the recruiting trail since the NCAA sanctions were released. One of the players he made sure to visit is also the Orange’s top target in the 2017 class. That is Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict’s point guard Trevon Duval.
”Well he loves Tre,” St. Benedict’s head coach Mark Taylor said. “He thinks he’s going to be awesome. Coach Mac thinks the world of Trey and thinks he’s going to be one of if not the best guard in that class.”
Duval declared Syracuse as his early leader after visiting for Orange Madness. While he remains high on the program, there is some apprehension regarding the recent sanctions.
”He was very interested in it,” Taylor said. “He’s concerned about the NCAA violations and loss of scholarships and some of the other citations that have come across with the program. But it’s early. He’s only a sophomore. He’s going to definitely look at all of his options but he does like Syracuse. Is he going to be scared off by what happened? I don’t know.”
When McNamara visited to watch St. Benedict’s play on Thursday, he was not able to speak to Duval or coach Taylor immediately afterwards. He did, however, speak with Taylor on the phone the next day. A big topic of conversation was, naturally, the NCAA situation.
”We definitely talked about that and what obstacles would have to be overcome,” Taylor said. “Then how to approach it with Tre. Syracuse is close with me and they’re close with the AAU program. So from both standpoints, I think they’re going to be in a good position to be in the picture. At the end of the day, they’re going to have to make Trey comfortable that it won’t effect the performance of their program and vice versa, give him more opportunity because there will be less competition.
”If they bring him in, he’s going to have to play right away because they’re not going to have enough scholarship players to compete if they don’t bring in high major guys who are able to contribute immediately. In some ways it’s a better situation because if they’re taking you, you know you’re playing.”
While ultimately Syracuse will have to convince Duval that the program will continue to play at an elite level even with the sanctions, it does not impact coach Taylor’s comfort with sending his players to the Orange, something he did in recent years with Tyler Ennis.
”I have no concerns at all about the sanctions,” Taylor said. “I think that’s all going to shake out and work out at the end of the day. If we’ve got a guard who is good enough to go to Syracuse, he’s going to be able to play immediately whether they have 13 scholarships or they have 11 or 10. It’s not going to effect the guard we’re going to send there.
”The question becomes, to me, is Boeheim going to be there. That to me is more of the issue. Trey being a sophomore, he’s got two more years of high school and then another at least two I would say, so you’re talking another four years. Is Boeheim going to coach another four years? That’s more of the issue than the sanctions right now.”
Duval’s talent is not in question. This past season, as just a sophomore, he took on a bigger role at St. Benedict’s and responded very well.
”He’s been great all year,” Taylor said. “He’s had to take on more of a role in different areas this year than he did last year. His leadership role became much bigger. His ability to run our team impacted our team more this year than it did last year. Tre’s shot has gotten better. His handle is tight but it needs to get better than it is now, which it will.
”His pull-up game got a lot better this year too. Being able to penetrate and pull-up. He’s a great finisher. He can get to the rim. His thing is can he control tempo better and can he make everyone around him better, and that’s something we’ve started to focus on and to push him to do.”