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Orangeyes Daily Articles for Monday for Basketball


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Aug 15, 2011
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For Le Moyne, exhibition against Syracuse is more than just a mere game (PS; $; Ditota)

When Nino Hernandez steps onto the court at the Carrier Dome Monday night, the experience will mark his first official basketball game in about 18 months.

The Le Moyne senior missed all of last year when the Northeast-10 Conference canceled the season because of Covid-19. Some players transferred or decided not to participate in practices. A core group stayed to attend in-person classes and wait out the winter. They tried to motivate themselves to practice each day without the benefit of a game to gauge the impact of those workouts.

And now, all those Covid-colored months later, Hernandez gets to play an actual basketball game in an arena filled with basketball fans.

“It’s gonna be a surreal moment, finally putting on the jersey, finally being under the lights,” Hernandez said. “And it just happens to be Syracuse. We’re super excited. We can’t wait to get the ball rolling.”

The ball will begin rolling at 7 p.m. Monday when the Dolphins make the 10-minute trip from their Eastside campus to the Dome. Le Moyne coach Nate Champion, understandably, is not sure what to expect.

He worried last year, once the Ivy League canceled its season, that the NE-10 might be next. And sure enough, once that decision came down from conference administrators, Champion gathered his players on Zoom one December day to break the news.

The team could practice in those early days only by wearing masks and only in groups of two. Players and coaches were tested three or four times per week. Eventually, Le Moyne broke into pods of four, then transitioned into full team practices by second semester.

But Champion acknowledged the challenges of selling workouts to players without the payoff of games. The Dolphins staff, too, had no way of measuring whether the workouts they designed were having any impact.

Champion appreciated the effort players put in. Hernandez described last “season” as bittersweet: The team was prohibited from playing games, but the shared experience of surviving and in a weird way thriving during Covid strengthened team bonds.

Syracuse Basketball: 4-star commit details closeness with Kevin Durant (itlh; Adler)

Other than his dad, new Syracuse basketball 2022 commit Chris Bunch says that his role model is NBA superstar Kevin Durant, according to a recent interview that Bunch conducted with Pro Insight.

The 6-foot-7 Bunch, a four-star wing and a top-60 prospect in his cycle according to 247Sports, recently gave a verbal commitment to the Orange. He picked the ‘Cuse over other finalists Washington, which is led by Mike Hopkins, and Rutgers.

Bunch is a senior at the powerhouse Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah, which should be among the nation’s elite prep-school squads during the upcoming campaign.

As a junior, Bunch competed for De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif. Per media reports, his hometown is in Oklahoma City. Durant, who plays for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, previously suited up for the Oklahoma City Thunder for numerous seasons. He is an NBA champion, an NBA Finals MVP and a regular-season MVP.

Syracuse basketball commit Chris Bunch talks about his relationship with Kevin Durant.

In the interview with Pro Insight, Bunch discussed a range of topics. One question that was asked of him centered around how he is close with Durant.

Here’s what Bunch had to say in response. “Other than my dad, that’s my role model. That’s the person I model my game after, like, that’s my uncle. That’s who I look up to. Every single day I’m just striving to get where he is. If I can be half as good as he is, I’d be okay with that.”
This is some pretty cool stuff. Durant is one of the two or three best players in the NBA today, at least in my opinion. When he retires down the line, Durant will be considered one of the NBA’s all-time greats.

So for Bunch to be close with Durant and have him as a role model, that should absolutely serve Bunch well as he wraps up his prep-school days, heads off to the Hill, and ultimately looks to embark on a professional career in the future.

Syracuse Basketball: 5-star target electric against nation’s No. 1 prep team (itlh; Adler)

Multiple Syracuse basketball five-star targets recently went toe to toe at an event in South Carolina, and one of those Orange prospects put forth an absolutely phenomenal performance, according to a national recruiting analyst.

A variety of stellar squads recently came together at the Made Hoops Southeast Preview in Rock Hill, S.C., with the featured team being the powerhouse Montverde Academy out of Montverde, Fla.

Two five-star players who both hail from Baltimore and hold ‘Cuse scholarship offers suit up for the Montverde Academy. They are 2023 five-star forward Kwame Evans Jr. and 2024 five-star power forward Derik Queen.

The 6-foot-9 Evans is No. 2 across the country within the 2023 class, according to the industry-generated 247Sports Composite. The 6-foot-8 Queen, meanwhile, is No. 2 overall within his cycle, per ESPN. Only in recent weeks did Orange coaches offer Queen and Evans.

Syracuse basketball five-star prospects competed versus each other at a recent event.

According to national analyst Jamie Shaw, Orange 2023 five-star target G.G. Jackson and his teammates went up against the Montverde Academy during one game at the Made Hoops Southeast Preview.

Jackson, throughout the contest, was guarded by Evans and other elite Montverde Academy players. Per Shaw, Jackson finished with 27 points and seven rebounds, while connecting on 2-of-3 attempts from beyond the arc.

The national analyst wrote in part about Jackson, “The 6-foot-9 junior showcased his ability to create off the bounce, finish at the rim, and even stepped into a couple of jumpers.”
That’s mighty impressive stuff from Jackson, a top-flight power forward who attends Ridge View High School in Columbia, S.C. In recent seasons, the Montverde Academy has proven the country’s best prep-school squad, and it is likely to enter the upcoming campaign as the pre-season No. 1 team nationwide in at least some major polls.

National analysts and recruiting insiders are suggesting that fellow Atlantic Coast Conference member and blue-blood program North Carolina is receiving a lot of buzz as it relates to Jackson’s recruitment.

Syracuse Basketball: 5-star Brewster target ridiculously long, highly skilled (itlh; Adler)

The big-time scholarship offers keep on pouring in for Syracuse basketball 2023 five-star target Matas Buzelis, who also continues to see his national rankings skyrocket.

The 6-foot-10 Buzelis, who can suit up at both guard positions and on the wing, recently jumped from No. 43 to No. 4 overall within his class, according to updated national rankings from 247Sports.

He is a consensus top-30 prospect, although the bevy of recruiting services these days have Buzelis in the top-10 nationally. The junior at the powerhouse Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., is likely to contend for the No. 1 overall rating in the 2023 cycle.

Orange coaches, who recently visited with Buzelis at his prep school, offered him nearly a year ago. His offer list has significantly grown in recent months, with suitors such as Duke, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State, North Carolina, Kansas, Illinois, Florida, Purdue, Oklahoma, Arizona, UCLA, Maryland and Connecticut, among others.

A national analyst has provided an evaluation of Syracuse basketball prospect Matas Buzelis.

Jerry Meyer, a national recruiting analyst for 247Sports, recently published a scouting report of Buzelis that provides some insights into this stellar 2023 prospect’s all-around game.

Meyer wrote, “At 6-10 has exceptional length for a highly developed skill set. Has a very thin build but can absorb contact. Is a smooth athlete with wiggle and capable of scoring around defenders. When not euro stepping to finish, prefers to finish off two feet. Shoots the ball well from outside but does have a low release at this point. Midrange scoring is an area for development where there is great potential. Handles the ball extremely well. Has a high dribble but it is on a string. Sees the floor and has feel for passing. Needs to gain strength as a rebounder but has a nose for the ball and has extremely sure hands. Lateral quickness can improve but has a feel for using his length as a defensive weapon. His competitive nature bodes well for his future development.”

Syracuse Basketball: 2022 class perfectly balanced with strong chemistry (itlh; Adler)

Syracuse basketball coaches have constructed a talented and versatile 2022 class that could help position the team for deep March Madness runs down the road.

I know, I know. I’m getting way ahead of myself. But hear me out. In recent years, college squads that have captured national titles have primarily been composed of veteran rosters, rather than a lot of five-star, one-and-done players.

Unless their rankings significantly change, the five members of the Orange 2022 cycle will not be five-star prospects prior to their careers on the Hill.

But … these ‘Cuse commits have a lot of potential and promise. They’re diverse in their skill-sets. There is some positional overlap, but not a ton.

Committed @Cuse_MBB @Thegoodz21
— Nervana “HEEM” (@_chrisbunch) October 21, 2021

Most importantly, we’re likely to see all five 2022 commits suit up in Central New York for multiple years, unless they elect to transfer. That last factoid is pivotal.

Let’s dissect the Syracuse basketball 2022 recruiting class.

In its 2022 cycle, the Orange has a four-star point guard, a four-star shooting guard, a four-star wing/small forward, a three-star power forward and a three-star power forward/center.

If my math is correct, this means that the ‘Cuse possesses a 2022 commit at all five positions. That’s pretty, pretty good, if you ask me.

What’s more, several of these high-school prospects already know one another quite well. Three-star power forward Maliq Brown and four-star shooting guard Justin Taylor, both of whom hail from Virginia, are quite close and have played together on the AAU circuit in the past.



See Onondaga Lake Park flooding damage (26 photos) (PS; photo gallery)

Traffic cones warn of standing water on a trail in Onondaga Lake Park on October 31, 2021. (Rylee Kirk |
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