Syracuse men’s basketball will have a little extra reason to celebrate this Independence Day. The program landed its first commitment of the 2018 class in 4-star prospect Darius Bazley.
“Syracuse is a great place,” Bazley told Scout.com, who first reported his commitment. “Coach Boeheim is unbelievable. He’s a legend. They’re a great coaching staff and I trust their development that they’ll be able to get me to the next level.”
Standing at 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds, Bazley is ranked the 43rd-best player in the 2018 recruiting class according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings. Based on that list, he is the best prospect Syracuse men’s basketball has landed since Tyus Battle in Feb. 2016.
The Orange have many holes to fill on their roster after the departure of Andrew White, John Gillon and first-round NBA draft pick Tyler Lydon, but Bazley will help offset those losses when he arrives in 2018. By then, depending upon other early departures, of course, the Orange could be looking at Battle, Bazley, Taurean Thompson and Matthew Moyer, all four of whom were or are 4-star prospects, in the starting lineup.
Maybe the most encouraging sign of landing Bazley, though, was his affection for Syracuse’s new assistant coach Allen Griffin. Former Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins was instrumental in many of Syracuse’s top recruitments over the last 20 years, but he left in March to become head coach in Washington.
With Hopkins’ departure, there were questions about whether Syracuse would be able to continue recruiting on a high level. Bazley’s top reason for choosing the Orange over Florida, Georgetown, Illinois, Louisville, Maryland, Purdue and Xavier, puts the recruiting question marks for Boeheim at rest for now.
“That (relationship with Griffin) was important because hew as the one recruiting me,” Bazley said according to Scout.com. “He’s (Griffin) cool. He’s really cool. When I went up on the visit, I just liked being around him. Coach Griffin was really important in my decision.”