What’s left in the transfer portal for Syracuse Orange men’s basketball?

We knew the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team was going to experience a significant turnover ahead of the 2022-23 season, but we didn’t expect Syracuse to be looking to add a 7th new player. The departure of Frank Anselem means the Orange need someone who can play center behind Jesse Edwards and now that Quincy Ballard has chosen Wichita State, where does Syracuse look now?

We are definitely not going to pass by hundreds of players on the portal but there are some with prior ties to Syracuse that might fit. I think too many people focus on finding a ‘zone center’ in the portal and don’t hope Orange find a player who can play 4 and 5. Otherwise the outposts of Syracuse will be occupied by unproven players.

Akok Akok (6-9, 215, PF, Soph, Connecticut) is a former Syracuse target who leaves Connecticut after having his last two seasons plagued by injuries. Akok hasn’t shot much but he was 13-28-3 this year and if he’s back at 100 percent next fall, he could bring some depth to Syracuse. It could also be open for on-campus visitation.

Franck Kepnang (6-11, 225, PF, Soph., Ore.) was another Syracuse recruiting target. The Cameroon native played high school in Pennsylvania and he served as a key reserve for the Ducks last year. Kepnang is not a strong offensive player but he would bring rebounds and rim presence. It is reported that Pitt, ohio stateMiami, Iowa StateMaryland, Penn State, West Virginia and Cincinnati are among the schools that contacted him.

Other portal players that may have been suitable but are not connected to Orange include:

  • Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (6-10, 245, PF, Fr., Tennessee) is a five-star former recruit who considered Orange before heading to Tennessee. Huntley-Hatfield released a top five from SMU, Auburn, WakeForestLouisville and Arizona State.
  • Johni Broome (6-10, 235, PF, Fr., Morehead State) would team up with Jesse Edwards to give Syracuse two impressive inside players. Broome averaged 16.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg and 3.9 blocks in just over 28 minutes last season. He has been connected with Auburn, Kentucky, Gonzaga and others.
  • Ben Vander Plas (6-8, 230, F, Sr., Ohio) may not have the size to play in the middle of the zone, but he offers experience and the ability to provide ground spacing from the front position. He averages 14.6 ppg and 6.8 rpg while shooting 33% from 3 last year. He envisions Virginia, Wisconsin, the state of Ohio, Virginia TechState of Iowa and Illinois.

Not only has Syracuse’s focus on Quincy Ballard kept them away from those options, but the Orange may end up seeing a few of those players on next year’s schedule. If the Syracuse coaches are looking for another transfer candidate, we should see information coming Monday about who they have been in contact with. If it’s another center, it looks like the coaching staff have faith in the four young forwards to be able to manage the ACC next season. Do you share this optimism?

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