Syracuse, NY – Mike's mailbox often has a general theme. A theme pops up and takes over the mailbox for a week or two.

However, the mailbox usually receives questions on a wide variety of topics, and that is also the case this week.

No matter what topic you are particularly interested in, please do not hesitate to send me your question.

Let's get started with this week's questions.

(If you have a question for the mailbox, email it to [email protected].

Q: Which player from the current 2024-25 roster would you most like to see play?

Gary C.

Mike: I think Syracuse's roster has several really interesting players.

I can't wait to see what Chris Bell can do after his sophomore season where he averaged 12.0 points per game and made 42% of his 3-pointers.

Young forward Donavan Freeman comes off of earning McDonald's All-America honors at IMG Academy. How big can his impact be?

Of the four transfers, everyone is excited to see what Eddie Lampkin, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound center from Colorado, can do. Can he give Syracuse the low-post presence he lacked last season?

But for me, there is another player I really want to see play and that is Chance Westry.

Westry, a 6-foot-6 guard, transferred to Syracuse last year but did not play at all in the 2023-24 season after suffering a knee injury in the preseason. The injury was extremely unfortunate considering Westry also missed the second half of the 2022-23 season at Auburn due to a knee injury.

Westry is intriguing in that he was a standout recruit, with ranking him 37th in the 2022 recruiting class.

Syracuse had shown interest in him during his freshman year at Trinity High School in Harrisburg, but the school's commitment waned when Westry transferred to Compass Prep in Arizona.

I believe Westry is the Orange's wild card this year, and if he can return to form after recovering from two knee injuries, he would really solidify Syracuse's backcourt situation.

Q: It doesn't look like Donavan Freeman is on the Bahamas national team roster, as he mentioned on your podcast. Any insight? The team actually looks good. Was he cut?

Adam G.

Donnie Freeman, pictured here playing for Team Takeover at the 2023 Peach Jam, is in training camp with the Bahamian national team ahead of the FIBA ​​Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July. N. Scott Trimble | [email protected]

Mike: Donavan Freeman, the 6'10″ forward from Washington DC, is currently in training camp in Houston, Texas with the Bahamian national team as the team prepares to participate in the FIBA ​​Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

It must be an incredible experience for Freeman. Some of the other players in the team's camp are NBA veterans like Eric Gordon, Deandre Ayton and Buddy Hield.

Despite the big names, I double checked and Freeman is still with the team in training camp.

Freeman is one of two high school players in the camp. The other is VJ Edgecombe, who has committed to Baylor.

In the FIBA ​​Olympic qualifiers, the Bahamas are in a group with Spain, Poland and Finland. The team's first game is against Finland on July 2.

Q: Syracuse suffered two unfortunate losses at center before the NCAA tournament in 2010 (Arinze Onuaku) and 2012 (Fab Melo), but which team was the better one in a head-to-head comparison?

Lucas S.

Mike: That's a really tough question. The 2010 team, which included Onuaku, Wes Johnson and Andy Rautins, was a perfect fit. The strengths of all the players meshed perfectly. Brandon Triche was the point guard and made sure Johnson and Rautins got the ball. Onuaku was the forceful presence. Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine both won Sixth Man of the Year honors.

The team was unranked to begin the year and finished 28-3 in the regular season. The Orange's dreams of a Final Four appearance were dashed when Onuaku was injured in a game against Georgetown in the Big East Tournament.

The 2012 team went 30-1 in the regular season, losing only one game when Melo, the 7-foot-4 center, sat out an away game at Notre Dame.

Syracuse lost to Cincinnati in the Big East Tournament with Melo, but entered the NCAA tournament as the number 1 seed in the East.

This team had more talent than the 2010 team. The backcourt featured veterans like Triche and Jardine, and future NBA lottery pick Dion Waiters came off the bench. The frontcourt featured Melo, Joseph and Rakeem Christmas. CJ Fair was the best reserve player.

Even though Melo was declared academically ineligible early in the NCAA tournament, the Orange still made it to the Elite 8 before losing to Ohio State. I firmly believe that had Melo played, he would have neutralized Ohio State center Jared Sullinger and the Orange would have made the Final Four.

While I really liked the way the 2010 team fit together and played together, I would choose the 2012 team if both were at their best.

Q: When Jerry West played for West Virginia, Syracuse played against the Mountaineers?

Bill N.

Mike: Jerry West, the NBA legend who died just last week at the age of 86, played in West Virginia from 1957 to 1960.

In his three college seasons, West averaged 24.8 points per game. As a senior in 1960, he scored 29.3 points per game. The Mountaineers finished 81-12 in West's three years.

But Syracuse never faced West. The two teams played each other in 1954 and didn't meet again until the 1960-61 season, when West was a rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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