Why Syracuse is using a scholarship to get a freshman transfer from East Carolina

Syracuse is building for its future by acquiring a transfer from ... East Carolina?


Multiple reports, first via Syracuse.com on Thursday, have former ECU power wing Elijah Hughes committing to Cuse. In picking Cuse, Hughes cancelled his scheduled official visit to Iona. This brings to mind the recent surprising headline in which Duke landed a recruit who was convinced he would be committing to Eastern Kentucky before Mike Krzyzewski hit him up.

But Hughes, a bruising 6-foot-6 forward, could wind up being a solid role player for the Orange come 2018. (Because he is transferring, standard protocol forces him to redshirt the upcoming season.) Hughes chose Cuse over Seton Hall as well. He's from Beacon, N.Y., but attended South Kent preparatory school in Connecticut with Matthew Moyer, who will be a sophomore at SU next season. 

"When I asked myself what I didn't like about Syracuse, I couldn't answer the question,'' Hughes told Syracuse.com. "I liked the coaching staff. I know some of the guys on the team already. It's close to home. It felt like family.''

Here's the interesting wrinkle: Hughes was not a standout at ECU as a frosh. He averaged 7.8 points for a sub-.500 team, shooting 43.6 percent from 2 and 27.3 percent from 3. Hughes has the physicality to handle playing in the ACC, but one season in the American leaves a lot to be desired. Syracuse, which is still on scholarship restriction from the NCAA, is taking a bit of a gamble on what's known as an up-transfer: a player who leaves a smaller program or conference to go to a bigger one.

Perhaps Hughes grows into a valuable three-year player for the Orange. This is certainly a transfer decision with the long-term in mind. Up-transfers have become more prevalent, but rare has been the case where a freshman has transferred out of a sub-100-type of school and opted to go to a top-20 program and thrived. If it winds up happening with Hughes, expect the pattern to intensify. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his ninth season reporting on college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

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