For anyone that watched the “Signing Day Special” on ESPNU, which if you didn’t you can check it out on ESPN3, saw that the top prospect Nerlens Noel decided to head to Kentucky over Syracuse or Georgetown. Losing a prospect is not a big thing, any head coach that has been at the helm of a top program like SU or GTown has both on been on both sides of the fence, and when they do lose one it’s not the end of the world. But this one is a bit different in my opinion, and the outcome might have been different if not for one thing that happened.
Listening to the 6’10″ center, that will replace Anthony Davis for the Wildcats, there was something that he said that had to make you think if you are a fan of the Orange. And think a lot. Noel talked that part of the decision was seeing coach Calipari’s squad in the Final Four, meaning that he watched the player that he would replace winning it all. Well, that has to be a tough pill to swallow for the SU coaching staff, who could have easily been in New Orleans had Fab Melo been eligible to play and then Noel might have watched coach Boeheim’s team and the center he was replacing in the Salt City next season.
Now, I doubt that watching Kentucky winning it all might have been the biggest piece of the puzzle that brought the number one player to Calipari’s program, but without a doubt it had part in it. How much we will never truly know, but what we do know is that right now the Orange head into the new season with just nine players on scholarships. Due to seniors graduating or early entrance into the NBA the team will lose their four of their six players points wise, including the top two. In all that is 42.7 out of 74.1 points per game that next season will not be on the floor for SU. With seniors Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine plus sophomore Fab Melo leaving the team will also be without three fifth of their starting line up, adding that Dion Waiters is gone as well the squad will be missing the conference sixth man of the year.
While the team is going to be a good squad, the fact that losing out on Noel and with what is leaving this is not going to be the team that it was this season, and that too is going to be a tough pill to swallow for both the team and its fan base. In the next few weeks I will go over each of the players that are going to be playing in Syracuse next year and what my expectations for each would be if I was the man at the helm.