For three seasons Syracuse basketball's always reliable forward C.J. Fair has been an under-the-radar player. On Wednesday, Fair was placed directly into the spotlight earning the ACC Preseason Player of the Year honor.
Fair earned 17 first-place votes among ACC media members to edged Virginia's Joe Harris (16 votes) for the honor. The Orange senior was also named to the Preseason All-ACC Team, which also featured Harris, Preseason Rookie of the Year, Duke's Jabari Parker, his teammate Rodney Hood, and Notre Dame's Jerian Grant.
Meanwhile, the Orange were predicted to finish second in the league behind Duke in the Preseason Poll. The Blue Devils earned 50 first-place votes to Syracuse's three to earn the honor for the 14th time in program history. Overall, the Orange earned 753 points in the poll, while Duke earned 805.
Here's how everything shaped out:
|3. North Carolina||1||668|
|5. Notre Dame||608|
|8. Boston College||457|
|9. Florida State||334|
|10. NC State||332|
|11. Georgia Tech||311|
|13. Wake Forest||220|
|15. Virginia Tech||65|
Looking at the poll, what is interesting is that the three newest members of the ACC are predicted to finish in the Top 6, while last year's conference winner, Miami, slid all the way down to 12th. Not surprising, but that is a big slip after such a successful year -- which also makes you feel lucky to root for a program like Syracuse which year-in and year-out still contends despite losing a lottery pick, its all-time winner and a front-line starter.
As for Fair, it is about dang time he got some recognition. Last season, he led Syracuse in points (14.5 per game) and rebounding (7.0 per game) and nearly single-handedly carried them to the National Championship Game.
The only concern is, how is he going to handle the hoopla?; and will the Orange have enough guys behind him to help him out? I think so, but what do you think?