SYRACUSE — Jim Boeheim hasn’t felt this good about a team in about four-to-five years.
That’s bad news for the rest of the ACC.
“I probably haven’t felt this good about a team since we had Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters, and Fab Melo during the 2011-12 season,” Boeheim said at Syracuse’s practice on Tuesday. “We’ve got size. We’ve got length. We’ve got shooting. We can play big or we can play small. We’ve got options.”
The Orange return four players — Tyler Lydon, Dajuan Coleman, Tyler Roberson, and Franklin Howard — from last year’s team that reached the Final Four while adding a pair of fifth-year transfers in Andrew White (Nebraska) and John Gillon (Colorado State). Syracuse will also add 7-2 Providence transfer Paschal Chukwu and several highly touted freshmen, notably 6-6 wing Tyus Battle and big man Taurean Thompson.
“Tyus Battle is as good as any first-year player in the country,” Boeheim said. “He’s a really talented player and Paschal Chukwu is going to help us on defense. He’s going to be really good in back of the 2-3 zone.”
As will Lydon, a sophomore that played a key role in last year’s surprise run to the Final Four.
Boeheim told FanRag Sports that Lydon has gained approximately 26 pounds since the end of last season and during one play in practice on Tuesday, the 6-foot-8 forward blocked a shot, initiated a fast break, and then stepped in as a trail four-man.
The Orange will need all that and more to be one of the best teams in the ACC.
“It’s getting closer to being the old Big East,” Boeheim said of the ACC. “It’s trending that way. The depth of this league is unbelievable.”
Jon Rothstein has been a college basketball insider for CBS Sports since 2010 and is the lead college basketball columnist for the FanRag Sports Network. He is also the host of the College Hoops Today Podcast via Compass Media Networks, which is available via iTunes. Rothstein is also a regular in-studio correspondent for both WFAN and CBS Sports Radio. He currently lives in Manhattan.