As one of college basketball’s proudest cultivators of long, athletic and versatile forwards, Syracuse was a natural fit from the get-go for prized combo forward Chris McCullough.
McCullough, one of the top high school juniors in the country, committed to Syracuse on Monday via a telephone call with head coach Jim Boeheim, becoming SU’s first pledge in the class of 2014 and a foundational piece in the team’s future frontcourt plans. He chose Syracuse over Florida, Kansas, UCLA and a host of rival Big East schools.
A standout at Brewster Academy (N.H.), McCullough unofficially visited Syracuse in August and committed three months later, despite having not taken an official visit to any school on his list. The Bronx native had been on track to make a decision sometime closer to his senior year, but accelerated that timeline upon realizing Syracuse was the perfect match.
McCullough is the second noteworthy high school hoops star to commit to the Orange in the last three days. His high school teammate, senior guard Ron Patterson, verbally committed to Syracuse during an official visit to the school on Saturday.
Though he’ll play along the base of SU’s 2-3 zone, McCullough is one of the top perimeter shooters in his class and possesses a skill set befitting of a wing, not a frontcourt player. The 6-foot-9 combo forward has the diverse scoring ability of a 3, the size and length of a 4 and the athleticism to play anywhere on the floor. The combination thereof makes McCullough arguably the most versatile junior forward in high school.
With McCullough in tow, Syracuse has now notched four recruits within the last three weeks. In addition to the two Brewster teammates (McCullough and Patterson), SU also owns verbal commitments from high-upside center Chinonso Obokoh and Philadelphia native B.J. Johnson. Obokoh, an elite post defender, and Johnson, a rangy and athletic lefty forward, are joined in the class of 2013 by Patterson and 5-star point guard Tyler Ennis.
Assuming no transfers or early exits to the NBA, McCullough will team up with a senior Rakeem Christmas, juniors DaJuan Coleman and Jerami Grant and sophomore reserves Obokoh and Johnson to form a stout frontcourt in 2014-15. Jermaine Lawrence and Tyler Roberson, two prized forwards in the class of 2013 who have each fielded a scholarship offer from coach Boeheim, could further deepen that group. As of last week, Lawrence and Roberson, according to multiple sources, were both Syracuse leans. SU has only one open scholarship remaining for next year, however, which means that scholly will likely be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Either way, Syracuse will boast—and stop me if you’ve heard this before—a deep frontcourt mixed with versatile scorers and stalwart post defenders. The common denominator? Standout length and athleticism paired with a commitment [and ability] to run the floor.
Recruiting is at an all-time high in Central New York, even as the looming possibility of a Jim Boeheim retirement press conference hovers over the region’s flagship program. By the time Syracuse settles into its new digs in the top-heavy ACC, the Orange should have the requisite talent to compete for the league crown regardless of who’s at the helm.