There is a lot of focus on Syracuse Orange basketball finalizing its roster for the upcoming 2016-17 season. But taking a look ahead, there is a very interesting year right after that for the 2017-18 campaign. There is the potential to have a plethora of roster spots available that could put a huge premium on recruiting in the 2017 class.
Let's take a look at the 2016-17 roster as it stands today.
Frank Howard (sophomore)
Malachi Richardson (sophomore)
Tyler Lydon (sophomore)
Tyler Roberson (senior)
Dajuan Coleman (senior)
Paschal Chukwu (Sophomore)
Tyus Battle (freshman)
Matthew Moyer (freshman)
John Gillon (senior)
Even if Malachi returns, he is gone after next season. That means, at a minimum, Richardson, Robers, Coleman and Gillon will have exhausted their eligibility, leaving a couple possible scenarios
If the Orange is able to add Thompson, that gives them a player who could be a significant contributor in the 2017-18 season. He could start at power forward, or at least battle with Moyer for that spot. In that scenario, the roster looks like this, assuming no early entrants.
Frank Howard (junior)
Tyler Lydon (junior)
Paschal Chukwu (junior)
Tyus Battle (sophomore)
Matthew Moyer (sophomore)
Taurean Thompson (sophomore)
That of course is under the assumption that Richardson returns for the 16-17 season. Why is that important? Because if he leaves, Syracuse could fill his roster spot with a 2016 guard. Namely Mike Bibby Jr. He would take up a scholarship for the 17-18 campaign.
If Malachi returns, Syracuse would have five of their 11 scholarship spots available. If players like Lydon and/or Battle bolt for the NBA, that could mean seven scholarship slots open up.
If Richardson leaves and does not come back for his sophomore year and Syracuse adds Bibby, they would still have anywhere from four to six scholarships to play with.
To complicate things further, there is a chance Syracuse misses on Thompson. In that scenario, they would likely look to add a graduate transfer forward or center to bolster front court depth. Since that player would use up their eligibility this coming season, it opens yet another scholarship for 17-18.
To sum it all up, there is the potential to have anywhere from four to eight scholarships available. So how does Syracuse fill up that roster? Recruiting.
The class of 2017 possesses a lot of talent. A lot of talent that can contribute right away. Syracuse is already involved with several of those prospects. While the thought of having to add somewhere in the four to eight player range in that cycle, it does give the Orange the chance to preach immediate playing time to the elite of the elite prospects.
Small forward and shooting guard have the potential to be some of the key positions, but all would be needed for depth. Frank Howard could be the only point guard on the roster, meaning someone like Quade Green could come in and see significant action right away.
But Syracuse would be potentially without a starting two or three if Lydon and Battle leave. Moyer could step in with his versatility, but his game may be more suited for the power forward spot.
Syracuse has already offered wings such as five-star guard Hamidou Diallo, five-star Lonnie Walker, four-star Jordan Tucker, four-star Ethan Thompson and four-star Brandon Randolph. Any of those players could step in and give Syracuse an immediate talented contributor.
Even with that, some depth at power forward and center would be needed even if Syracuse landed Taurean Thompson. Syracuse is also recruiting four-star Hameir Wright and five-star center Nick Richards, among others.
One more name to watch is former signee Moustapha Diagne. He is a class of 2017 forward who Syracuse is still recruiting hard. The Orange figure to be the favorite for him at this point.
A class filled with almost any combination of those players would make the Syracuse coaches very, very happy. Is that realistic to add four, five or even six of them? Who knows. It will probably be tough to fill out a class that way, but certainly not impossible. Especially with so much playing time available.
And, even with a lot of youth, the veteran leadership of Howard, Moyer, Chukwu and potentially Lydon means Syracuse would have a very nice mix there with a ton of talent. That should make the Orange a contender.
But the point is clear. Syracuse recruiting in 2017 is critical. While recruiting is important every year, there may not be a year in recent memory so directly impacted by the incoming class as the 2017-18 season.
Here's my way too early prediction for Syracuse basketball's 2017 class:
Don't be surprised if Syracuse fills any other scholarship openings with graduate transfers.null