The Syracuse Orange landed former 5-star recruit JJ Starling, who decided to transfer after one year at Notre Dame.
It only took JJ Starling about one day of being in the transfer portal to decide on continuing his college basketball career with the Syracuse Orange. Starling played year one with Notre Dame but decided to leave for his hometown Orange.
The Baldwinsville, New York native had a fairly good year with the Irish. He started in 24 of 28 games played, averaging 11.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. But Notre Dame had all sorts of problems, finishing the season 11-21, and with longtime head coach Mike Brey stepping down after the end of the season.
That left Starling with the choice of either staying for what would likely be a rebuilding year with a whole new system, or coming home to the 315. He chose the latter.
What are JJ Starling’s strengths?
Scoring is the number one asset of JJ Starling’s game. No matter how bad Notre Dame might have been, averaging 10 points per game in a power six conference is worthy of some type of praise. Starling showed his potential of being a go-to scorer, putting up at least 20 points on three different occasions.
The McDonald’s All-American came out of high school as a pure scorer. As expected, the biggest struggle adjusting to the college game was inefficiency. Starling only shot 42.1% from the field and 29.9% from downtown. However, in a Syracuse offensive system that (under Jim Boeheim) ran a pro-style offense, it could allow Starling a bit more freedom and creativity to score. Of course, that part is all dependent on how much new head coach Adrian Autry will differ from Boeheim.
Starling also had a very clean season, limiting turnovers to just 1.5 per game. As an everyday player who averaged just under 30 minutes per game, that’s a very good rate for someone who has the ball in his hands often.
Finally, at 6-4, Starling would fit perfectly into the classic Syracuse Orange 2-3 zone, again dependent on if Autry decides to use it. Autry did allude to not getting rid of the zone entirely at his introductory press conference, so if that’s the case, a 6-4 Starling up top would be a good reason to keep the zone in certain instances.
How does JJ Starling fit with the Syracuse Orange?
On a team that could lose Joe Girard III and Jesse Edwards, Starling should make up for the scoring Syracuse could lose. Of course, Girard and Edwards could both come back, but even if they do, Starling would just add another layer of offense.
Another question mark is Judah Mintz. In a perfect world, Mintz and Starling would start together in the backcourt. In an almost too-perfect world, Adrian Autry could use a three-guard undersized lineup of Mintz, Girard, and Starling. In a world Syracuse fans might not want to think about, Starling would be the lead guard, and would probably be counted on to carry the bulk of the scoring.
Realistically, the prospect of a Mintz and Starling backcourt is the most entertaining. Both players can get into the lane, have good tendencies to excel in the 2-3 zone, and have the makeups to guard in man-to-man defense.
Overall Fit Grade & Final Thoughts
For Adrian Autry’s first move as Syracuse Orange head coach to be landing a former five-star recruit out of the transfer portal has to feel unbelievable for the ‘Cuse fanbase. The talent level for Syracuse has seemingly dropped off a bit, but Starling is the type of player Syracuse is used to having. It seems like a perfect fit all around.