C.J. Fair didn’t enter Syracuse with much fanfare.
Hype is a tough thing to garner when you’re part of the same recruiting class as Fab Melo and Dion Waiters, two top 25 recruits that sat either first or second at their position.
But Fair had the most productive season of any of the Orange freshman. He led the newcomers in minutes playing and rebounding and was second in scoring. There’s reason to believe that those numbers could have been even more impressive for Fair had Jim Boeheim opted to give him more consistent minutes early in the season. Fair didn’t start any games, but in the five games that he played over 30 minutes, Fair averaged 11.2 ppg and 5.8 rpg.
As a freshman, Fair played as a combo-forward, a face-up four with the ability to finish in the mid-range and get all the way to the rim with the dribble. According to Brandon Triche, however, Fair added some range on his jumper this summer.
“The guy who got better is C.J. Fair,” guard Brandon Triche told CBSSports.com’s Jeff Borzello. “He’s a guy who was more of a mid-range guy around the basket. Now, he’s knocking the three down consistently, off the dribble, off the catch. I see a lot of different things from him.”
There are a ton of minutes available in the Syracuse front court. Rick Jackson graduated, and the other three front court returners — Melo, Baye Moussa Keita and James Southerland — were not as productive as Fair last year, and freshman Rakeem Christmas is a center. Given more consistent minutes and a larger role in the offense, Fair should be able to thrive.
If he has truly added a three-pointer to his offensive repertoire, expect a big season out of the 6’8″, left-handed Baltimore native. He has the size and the athleticism to play the power forward spot — particularly on the base line in Boeheim’s 2-3 zone — but he will be a matchup nightmare for opposing power forwards that don’t have the speed to defend him on the perimeter.