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Jalen Carey solves Syracuse’s long-term point guard concerns

Syracuse landed one of the top remaining prospects on its 2018 board when point guard Jalen Carey pledged to the Orange on Oct. 4. With Carey committed, Jim Boeheim and staff can starting spending their recruiting focus on their last couple senior prospects, as well as the 2019 class.

Carey is a 6-3 product of Immaculate Conception in Montclair, New Jersey, just outside New York City. He has a dangerous pull-up jumper, and can burn opposing teams when left alone along the perimeter. With his length and awareness, Carey has the potential to improve Syracuse’s zone defense in the backcourt as well. He’s a solid finisher in transition, and he also does a nice job working away from the basket.

As one of the top hardwood prospects in the tri-state area, Carey will bring a reputation to Syracuse for quickness and toughness. As a junor, Carey averaged better than 18 points per game while shooting well over 40 percent from 3-point range. He’s the No. 11 ranked point guard and No. 54 overall prospect nationally in the 247Sports Composite.

Looking ahead to Syracuse’s 2017-18 point guard situation, the Orange will have Geno Thorpe, Franklin Howard, and Howard Washington. Thorpe is a graduate transfer from USF who will have only one season to make an impact in the ACC. Howard has had an up-and-down first two seasons at Syracuse, while Washington is an incoming freshman.

Thorpe, Howard, and Washington are all 6-3 or taller. So is Carey, who stands 6-3. He fits Boeheim’s preferred mold of longer point guards who can defend.

Carey will arrive at Syracuse for the 2018-19 season in position to challenge immediately to replace Thorpe’s lost minutes. Whether he will come in and start immediately depends largely on the development of Howard and Washington over the next year. But Carey will undoubtedly play an important role in the Orange backcourt as a freshman.

With the addition of Carey, the Orange are starting to fill up. Syracuse also added small forward Darius Bazley, as well as Boeheim’s son Buddy Boeheim. Boeheim will walk on at SU for basketball scholarship purposes. His father’s status as a school employee means free tuition for his son. But Boeheim is not your average walk-on – mid-major schools such as Butler offered him scholarships.

The possibility that an underclassmen, such as Tyus Battle, leaves early for the NBA next means that Syracuse has to be prepared to take more 2018 signees. Taurean Thompson’s sudden depature in late August opened up another scholarship for the Orange. But Carey’s commitment fills a significant hole with the impending departure of Thorpe after his one season at Syracuse.

Syracuse’s top remaining 2018 targets include power forward Nate Roberts and combo guard Eric Ayala. Roberts took an official visit to Syracuse in late October, while Ayala has an official visit planned in mid-October. Roberts has also scheduled official visits to Nebraska and Washington, while Ayala is still considering Maryland, Oregon, Ohio State, and Miami. If the Orange can land either Roberts or Ayala to join forces with Bazley, Carey, and Boeheim, they’ll be bringing in one of the top freshman classes in the entire ACC next year.