In a move that was to be expected, Syracuse sophomore center Fab Melo will leave school and enter the NBA draft, the school announced Thursday afternoon.
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress reported on Monday that Melo had signed with an agent, making the move inevitable, with the school officially confirming the news Thursday.
“Being able to play professional basketball has been my dream since I first starting playing this game and now I have the opportunity to accomplish that dream,” said Melo in a statement. “Coach Boeheim, Coach Hopkins and the rest of the Syracuse staff have helped me develop as a player and as a man and I will always be appreciative for what they’ve done for me.”
The 7-foot native of Brazil averaged 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks for the Orange in 2011-12, which was a significant improvement over his freshman season.
Melo came into his sophomore in much better shape and became the anchor in the middle of the Syracuse zone for much of the season.
He missed seven games on the year due to academic issues, including the entire NCAA tournament. The Orange were 29-1 when Melo was in the lineup and their season ended with a 77-70 loss to Ohio State in the Elite Eight.
Melo is projected to be drafted toward the end of the first round of the 2012 NBA draft.
To replace Melo next season, Syracuse already has 6-9, 275-pound DaJuan Coleman, a McDonald’s All-American, and is still in the running for highly coveted No. 1 prospect Nerlens Noel.