Former Notre Dame guard J.J. Starling, one of the top college basketball transfers this spring, told ESPN he has committed to play at Syracuse next season.
“I felt like it was a great fit for me,” Starling said. “The coaching staff are people I know I can put my trust in to handle and manage my career the right way.”
Starling will be the first recruit committed to play for newly anointed head coach Adrian Autry, who replaces Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim after his 47-year reign at Syracuse. Starling was previously heavily pursued by Autry, then the associate head coach, as his lead recruiter out of high school.
“My relationship with Coach Autry is very strong,” Starling said. “That is a guy I know I can trust, and he isn’t sugarcoating anything. He is going to allow his players to play with freedom and also instill confidence whenever they need it. We are going to push the ball in transition and play to the best of our abilities with the utmost confidence. I will most likely be a point guard and shooting guard, but I am willing to play whatever role is necessary for us to win games.
“Being able to play on one of the biggest stages in college basketball is definitely noteworthy. Also, being able to have my parents and other relatives come out to games and support me sounds amazing, especially when they rarely were able to do so through my career.”
Starling picked Syracuse over interest from a host of schools, including Alabama, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, Tennessee, Auburn, Indiana and Oregon.
He entered the NCAA transfer portal the first day it officially opened on Monday and wasted no time in electing to commit less than 24 hours later to the Orange, whose campus is located just 14 miles away from his hometown of Baldwinsville, New York.
“This was a pretty quick decision because I knew what Cuse has to offer and I trust in that,” Starling said. “I know I’m going to be in the right hands that will help me grow as a person on and off the court. I did not know all along that I wanted to go home; I was going to entertain the coaches that were calling and getting in contact. However, instead of making it more stressful for my parents and myself, we had a long conversation and realized that Cuse was the spot for me.”
Starling was a McDonald’s All American and the No. 19 recruit in the Class of 2022, emerging as a five-star prospect at La Lumiere School in Indiana and on the Nike EYBL circuit with Albany City Rocks. He averaged 11.2 points and 2.8 rebounds as a freshman at Notre Dame, playing his entire season as an 18-year old and being younger than several five-star recruits in the 2023 high school class.
A potential first-round pick in the 2024 NBA draft, Starling said he will not be entering the 2023 draft.
“I will not be testing the waters,” he said. “I feel it would be best to come back to the college stage after having a year of growth and experience, and come back to get better and improve.”
Starling said even though he didn’t have the year he hoped at Notre Dame, due to head coach Mike Brey’s decision in January to step down, he still learned a lot.
“Coach Brey was a great coach and person,” he said. “Even while going through tough times, he tried his best to make sure he was there for all of the players and continued to relay the message: ‘We only have each other.’ I wish him the best in whatever he decides to do.”