Syracuse Basketball: Orange gets needed frontcourt depth in Naheem McLeod

Naheem McLeod may not replace Jesse Edwards on his own in the frontcourt for Syracuse Basketball but he’s a needed pickup for the team this offseason.

It’s been far from a quiet offseason for Syracuse Basketball, starting with Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim stepping aside and assistant Adrian Autry taking over. He had to deal with a few roster changes, as four-year starter Joe Girard entered the transfer portal. Freshman Judah Mintz entered the NBA Draft process and could end up staying, while backup Symir Torrence left for Binghamton.

But the biggest roster departure to date for the Orange was Jesse Edwards, the All-ACC big man who averaged 14.5 ppg and 10.3 rpg. He decided to enter the transfer portal, leaving the team with a giant hole at the five-spot. The team went looking around among the free agents for one of their own to replace him and found a familiar face.

Naheem McLeod truly is as big a player as there is in NCAA Basketball. He’s a 7’4 and 250-pound center and transfer from Florida State. This past season, he started 11 games and played an average of 13 mpg, producing 3.8 ppg and 2.7 rpg. He’s a solid defender inside but is vulnerable when opposing teams try to space him out.

Syracuse will take any help it can get at the center position. The backup minutes behind Edwards last season were to Mounir Hima, a transfer from Duquesne. He averaged just 7.4 mpg and isn’t much of an offensive threat. It’ll be these two and incoming 7’2 freshman center William Patterson looking to combine for the 40 minutes at this specific spot.

This is a great opportunity for McLeod to get extended minutes to showcase his skills. If he’s effective, Syracuse Basketball will be in great shape in the frontcourt. But if he struggles, the team could have a rough first season in the Coach Autry era.