‘Cuse not a finalist for 5-star small forward from Philly

Five-star small forward Justin Edwards from Philadelphia, whom some experts believe is a contender for the No. 1 national ranking in the junior cycle, has released a list of seven finalists, and Syracuse basketball didn’t make the cut.

This isn’t altogether surprising. The Orange coaching staff offered the 6-foot-7 Edwards last summer, but in recent months, when he discussed his recruitment with national analysts, I hadn’t really seen many mentions of the ‘Cuse, if any at all.

For his Twitter page, those still in contention for Edwards are Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn, Maryland, Kansas, Villanova and the NBA’s G League.

After the Orange offered Edwards, and I started tracking his recruiting process closely, I had seen some reports that noted Connecticut and Penn State as recruiting him hard, but neither of those groups made his top seven.

Syracuse basketball is out of the running for five-star small forward Justin Edwards.

Edwards was an All-American as a junior for the Imhotep Institute Charter High School in Philadelphia, a squad that he helped lead to a Class 5A state title in Pennsylvania during the 2021-22 campaign.

More recently, in two live periods on the AAU circuit in April, he performed at a high level for the Philadelphia-based Team Final in Nike’s EYBL league, earning various honors in an article published by The Circuit staff on theseasonticket.com.

We noted a few days ago that Syracuse basketball was among the squads that watched Edwards and his AAU teammates in person during the most recent live period as EYBL contests were held in the Indianapolis area.

A consensus top-20 player in the 2023 class, Edwards has received around 20 scholarship offers throughout his recruitment, and his seven finalists are all excellent.

Obviously, Kentucky is a blue-blood program and a recruiting titan. Both Auburn and Tennessee are recruiting at a high level out of the Southeastern Conference.

Maryland, which has a new head coach in former Seton Hall boss Kevin Willard, has reportedly recruited Edwards hard for a while now.

Kansas just won the 2022 national title, while Villanova made the Final Four. The G League will often be an option for top-flight prospects like Edwards.

When I penned this column, between the On3 Web site and Rivals.com, I saw one prediction each for Edwards in the direction of Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee.

At present, Rivals.com has ranked him the highest across the country in the 2023 cycle, placing Edwards at No. 8. Virtually all of the main recruiting services rate him as a five-star player, and he’s also deemed a top-five small forward and the No. 1 prospect in Pennsylvania within the 2023 class.

While the Syracuse basketball coaching staff has offered more than 15 players in the 2023 cycle, according to recruiting services, I personally feel like the ‘Cuse has centered in on a couple of key targets, namely four-star guard Elmarko Jackson, four-star shooting guard Reid Ducharme, and big man Joseph Estrella, who will enter the national rankings in this class soon.

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