Just as soon as one Mike Williams leaves Syracuse, another is waiting in the wings. Monday morning, the SU faithful were awoken to a new commit, the Orange’s first of the recruiting class of 2011: combo guard Michael Carter-Williams of St. Andrew’s School in Barrington, Rhode Island. If that school is ringing a bell, it’s the alma mater of Demetris Nichols.
A relative unknown, at least compared to his 2011 counterparts Tony Wroten, Trevor Cooney and LaQuinton Ross, the book on Carter-Williams is that he is a guard who can score in a plethora of ways – pulling up, stepping back and launching the three. He doesn’t have Flynn-type quickness that allows him to explode through the lane or the build to withstand contact on the way, but he is very hard to defend when he’s on.
The elephant in the room is Carter-Williams’ lack of size, as he weighs in at 6’4″ and 155 pounds – picture Eric Devendorf minus 20 pounds and you have a passable idea of his build. With two years before he arrives on the hill, he has plenty of time to improve his physique.
As for the history of Syracuse’s involvement with Carter-Williams, he has attended the last two elite camps at The Dome, and is head-over-heels for the school’s broadcast program. That program has turned into a very powerful recruiting tool, having played a significant role in the courtship of Paul Harris, Mookie Jones, James Southerland, CJ Fair, Dion Waiters, Brandon Triche and current prospects Trevor Cooney and Tobias Harris. You have to give Mike Hopkins a ton of credit for developing that program into the weapon it has become.
On that note, what does Carter-Williams’ commitment mean for the future of SU?
For one thing, it likely takes Wroten off the table. The #2-rated point guard in the class, Wroten suffered a torn ACL playing football earlier this fall and will miss his junior basketball season. SU hasn’t offered Wroten a scholarship, so he may not have ever been on the table to begin with. The Orange has a little bit of recent history with guards going under the knife with torn ACL’s, so for now, this could just be a “bird in the hand” kind of situation more than anything else. And who knows, maybe Wroten doesn’t recover well enough to live up to his hype and Carter-Williams turns out to be the better college player all along.
It also signals a shift in recruiting focus from the frontcourt to the backcourt. Here are the last five players before Carter-Williams to give verbals to SU in order of most recent commit date, along with size:
1. Fab Melo - 8/3/09 (7’0″, 270)
2. Dashonte Riley – 3/5/09 (6’10″, 220)
3. Baye Moussa Keita – 10/21/08 (6’10″, 210)
4. CJ Fair – 10/19/08 (6’7″, 185)
5. Brandon Triche – 9/17/08 (6’3″, 195)
That’s not to say that Jim Boeheim and Co. will suddenly start turning away the likes of Tobias Harris and DaJuan Coleman, but the staff clearly feels confident (and with good reason) in all it has accomplished to ensure that SU’s frontcourt is a strength for at least the next three seasons. From here, the SU recruiting machine sets its sights on Harris, Cooney and perhaps its toughest challenge in wooing Brandon Knight.