Two players transferring could help Syracuse with impending scholarship restrictions

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Despite not being in the NCAA tournament, Syracuse made news on Thursday.

Hours before Notre Dame and Northeastern tipped to start the Round of 64, Jim Boeheim held a press conference to address the sanctions imposed on his program, the most impactful of which was a loss of 12 scholarships over a four-year period. However, by Thursday afternoon, the Syracuse scholarship situation became a little bit clearer.

Sophomore B.J. Johnson announced he would transfer. Fellow sophomore Ron Patterson did the same shortly after.

Syracuse is graduating Rakeem Christmas this spring and has four commits set to join the program this fall, putting the Orange at the maximum 13 scholarship limit. Matthew Moyer, a 2016 recruit, is also committed to Syracuse and like the four 2015 signees, he too has said he still intends on attending Syracuse.

The 2016-17 season would have been problematic. Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije both graduating would free up two more scholarships, but the Orange would still be one over the limit entering that season. Even if Syracuse had lost Chris McCullough to the 2016 NBA Draft, there still wouldn’t have been room for Moyer.

As Mike Waters of the Post-Standard points out, the departures of Johnson and Patterson make it possible for the Syracuse coaching staff to continue its pursuit of Huntington Prep (West Virginia) 2015 big man Thomas Bryant and 2016 wing Tyus Battle of Gill St. Bernard’s High (New Jersey). In November, Bryant cut his list to Syracuse, Indiana and Missouri. The Orange are one of seven finalists for the services of Battle.

Johnson, the 6-foot-7 forward, averaged 4.2 points and 3.6 boards per game. Ron Patterson, the former Indiana commit, averaged 2.6 points per game. Each logged less than 15 minutes a contest.