Syracuse women's basketball just wrapped up the best season in program history with a Final Four win, National Championship game appearance, highest ranking ever as they finished third in the country and many other accomplishments. The success achieved in the 2015-16 season has Orange fans thinking about a bright future.
There is no question that since head coach Quentin Hillsman has taken over, the quality of the players he brings into the program has drastically improved. That includes snagging the first class with multiple McDonald's All-Americans in program history in Brianna Butler and Brittney Sykes back in 2012.
Butler has used up her eligibility, Sykes is entering her final season as are Alexis Peterson and the Day sisters. That means an influx of talent is needed to maintain the level of success and continue to build the program.
Enter ESPN five-star guard Desiree Elmore out of Capital Prep in Hartford (Conn.). Elmore is a 5-foot-10 guard who had a plethora of power five offers. She picked the Orange and signed with them in November.
"I picked Syracuse for three reasons," Elmore said. "One, not far from home so I can see my family often. Two, ranked number one in the country in communications, which is what I plan on majoring in next year. Three, coach Q was the only head coach that recruited and built a relationship with me from the jump.
"On the first day I talked on the phone with coach Q, he offered me. He made sure that we were on the same page. I knew that he meant business and he really wanted me. He told me what he thought I should work on not only to be come a great player for his program but a grea tplayer for any program. He showed me that he cared about my success no matter where I was planning to go to school."
As the country found out during Syracuse's NCAA Tournament run, the Orange play an up-tempo, pressure defensive style of basketball. It is a style that is not only fun to watch, but is highly effective in putting pressure on and disrupting their opponents. That style not only fits what Elmore brings to the table, but is one she cannot wait to be join.
"I absolutely love their system!," she said. "They play up-tempo and are able to slow the game down when necessary. I love playing defense, creating turnovers and I love to drive and kick out to the open man. This is the type of system I'm meant to play in."
When Syracuse Athletics announced the 2016 class for the women's program, coach Hillsman noted the skills that made Elmore such a highly touted recruit.
"She can do it all," Hillsman said in a release. "She can score from all spots on the floor, defend four positions, and is extremely versatile. She scores in bunches and rebounds in traffic. She is very strong with deceptive quickness. She has an incredible feel for the game and, like the other signees, plays for a very good summer program in Excel for Walter Welsh."
Elmore says she hopes she can play a similar style to Cornelia Fondren, a senior reserve this past season. Elmore, however, has a more versatile offensive game it seems. She can stretch her game to the three-point line and is a gifted passer. Much like Fondren, Elmore is physical and defends very well.
She scored over 2,000 points in high school and had some huge performances in the biggest games. That includes a 30 point, 17 rebound, five block and four steal performance in the 2015 state final.
When not performing on the court, Elmore was watching every Syracuse game that she could. She was impressed and excited by what they were able to accomplish during this season's magical run, and believes it shows that the future is bright.
"I watched every game I could," Elmore said. "After I got out of practices, I'd have to let my mom know we had to go straight home so that I could watch the game. They were definitely forgotten and I think when they lost in the ACC Championship to Notre Dame, people started looking out for them.
"But once they beat South Carolina in the tournament, people started paying attention to who they are. This is definitely a team that will be back making some noise in the tournament next year."
That noise could be aided by Elmore, who has the talent to contribute right away. She says she will do everything she can to help deliver a National Championship to Syracuse before her career is over.
Off the court, Elmore says she likes hanging out with friends and family, going to the mall or the movies and going out to eat. Her favorite musician is Fetty Wap and her favorite food is shrimp alfredo.