Westry is the second recruit committed to play for incoming head coach Adrian Autry, who replaced Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim after his 47-year tenure at Syracuse.
“I believe in what Coach Autry is building,” Westry said. “He and his staff sold me on their level of commitment to helping me develop into the player I want to be. He knows that I’m coming in ready to work and hopefully help us get to the tournament and make a run. “
Westry picked Syracuse over a final list of schools that included Creighton, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Penn State.
“I’m prepared to take on any role that he and the staff feel will help put us in a position to win,” Westry said. “That being said, I feel like I’m most effective with the ball in my hands and with the freedom to create for others as well as myself. I pride myself on being a guy who makes his teammates better. Coach Autry and I discussed that a lot during my recruitment process. He let me know that he has trust in me as a lead guard and that I’ll have opportunities to do what I feel like I do best.”
Westry was a highly regarded prospect from a young age who finished as ESPN’s No. 39 recruit in the high school class of 2022. He made a name for himself on the Nike EYBL 17U circuit averaging 12.2 points, 4.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals for a deep, talented NY Renaissance squad in 2021.
A 6-foot-6 guard who can also play on the wing, Westry has a feel for the game operating out of ball screens, defensive versatility and an ability to play on or off the ball that give him significant long-term potential, either in lieu of Judah Mintz, who is testing the NBA draft waters, or operating alongside him and former five-star recruit JJ Starling, who committed to Syracuse last month.
“I was not recruited to replace Judah,” Westry said. “Coach is respecting Judah’s process, and I’m doing the same. I know that Judah will do what’s best for him, but I welcome the opportunity to play with such a dynamic talent. And I’m super excited to share a backcourt with JJ. I think that our games complement each other in ways that could lead to a lot of success for our team.”
Westry was in the midst of a strong preseason at Auburn last fall, including in exhibition play during an overseas tour of Israel, causing several scouts to earmark him as an under the radar one-and-done prospect before he aggravated a knee injury that eventually required arthroscopic surgery. After struggling to fully recover from the injury, he ultimately ended up redshirting his freshman season after playing just 105 minutes.
“I was definitely disappointed that I couldn’t start my freshman season fully healthy,” Westry said. “But everything happens for a reason, I really believe that. I’m thankful that Coach [Bruce] Pearl and the Auburn medical team saw that I wasn’t myself and didn’t pressure me to keep playing and risk my long-term health. We decided that taking the redshirt was the best decision for my future. It was really tough for me, both mentally and physically, but I finally feel like I’ve fully recovered in all respects. I’m excited to get back out there next season and play at the level I know that I’m capable of.”
Westry was previously heavily pursued by Syracuse out of high school, being offered a scholarship in July 2019 and taking an official visit in summer 2021.
“[Associate head] coach [Gerry] McNamara and I have had a close relationship for years. He was actually one of the first high-major coaches that I spoke with when I was a freshman in high school, and also the first to extend an offer. So as soon as I entered the portal, he hit me, and he and Coach Autry made it clear that I was their priority and that they believed that I could have a big impact next season.”
Westry’s commitment helps soften the blow of losing seniors Jesse Edwards and Joe Girard, two of Syracuse’s top three scorers last season along with Mintz, to the NCAA transfer portal. But there’s still significant work ahead for Autry in completing the Orange roster, a process that will likely continue into the summer.
Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service used by NBA, NCAA and international teams.