I love C.J. Fair. I love him because I like players who will perform every night no matter what happens. I love him because I love guys that go about their business, have just a little bit of style (headbands work) but make the game look easy.
What prompted this roundtable are two things: Big East Player of the Year voting is beginning for many eyeballs and Fair's been the one bright spot on the team so far. In today's one and done era, you never really know who's going to pull a Devendorf and leave. I got together with Matt, Jeremy and Chris to talk about all this and more. Enough of me waxing on, let's bring on the real basketball guys.
Question 1: What's your favorite part of C.J.'s game?
Chris Daughtry: Mid-range jumper. Simple as that. Nowadays most players can either shoot from deep or finish at the rim. Good players can do both. It's fairly rare to see a player excel at playing in the mid-range. And with the way he's been expanding his game every single year, CJ's turning himself into a player who can score from anywhere on the court with relative ease. Most NBA players can't do that, much less college players.
Matt McClusky: Can I say everything? Really, it's probably easier to just say what I don't like; his lack of a consistent jumper. Otherwise? Fair is Mr. Do Everything for the Orange, a key player that has helped Syracuse win more games it probably shouldn't have over the last three years than people realize. Need a rebound? CJ Fair is there. Need a bucket to stop a run? Just wait...CJ Fair will be there.
Jeremy Ryan: His versatility. I like the fact that he seems to be the only player on the team who is as comfortable posting up as he is shooting a three. He rebounds, he runs the floor, he plays good defense - all at a high and consistent level. He is the team's MVP this season - BY FAR.
Question 2: Is C.J. the best player on the team? In the conference?
CD:If CJ the best player on the team? That's a tough one. It depends on how you define "best". Statically, yeah. He's basically tied with Triche in scoring, leads the team in rebounding, shoots the highest percentage from 3 and on FTs. Only Baye and Rak shoot better overall from the floor (on far fewer attempts). He hasn't scored less than 10 points since Jim B's 900th win against Detroit. He's certainly been the most consistent player. But, to me, the "best" player means the most talented, which CJ isn't. That title probably goes to MCW. So CJ is probably the most important player, but not the best.
As for best in the league, I wish, but no. And this if coming from a guy who wrote the article about CJ being a dark horse POY candidate. I think Otto Porter Jr. (ugh) proved he's the best in the BEast by single-handedly beating the Orange this past Saturday. I'd be shocked if he wasn't the unanimous choice for POY.
MM: Best is a little arbitrary. Overall talent wise, in terms of offense, I still think Michael Carter-Williams is probably the one with the most talent -- or at least highest ceiling. But I'm willing to throw my hat into the CJ Fair Is the Best Player On Syracuse ring if you're talking intangibles. A player who comes up with the big play on both ends of the court. Actually, instead of debating the "best" on the team or league, maybe we should switch it to "most consistent" because Fair wins that hands down.
JR: On the team? Yes. He may not be the most athletic, or the most talented, but he is the most consistent performer game in and game out. You can mark him down for somewhere around 15-18 points and 7-10 rebounds every time they throw the ball up.
However, as we saw on Saturday, he is not the best player in the league. Otto Porter has that honor pretty much sewn up. But if Fair doesn't make first team all-Big East, they should stop giving out the awards.
Question 3: C.J. is projected as a top 15 pick NEXT year. Does he jump after this year or does he stick around for one more year?
CD: He sticks around. Last I checked, DraftExpress had CJ projected as the 38th pick in the 2013 draft, so it's not a situation where his draft stock is super high and he has to go while he can. At least not yet. Maybe he goes on a post season tear and averages 25/10 for Big East and NCAA Tournaments. If, for any reason, his stock skyrockets even into the mid-teens range, he has to go. But I don't see that happening. He has much more to gain by staying and getting even better than trying to leave now. And, if you look at how he's improved over the years, CJ is looking at being a 20/10 guy as a senior with even only moderate improvement over this year.
MM: I've seen Fair as a second round pick on some mock drafts for THIS season. That's probably a reach, but let's remember, athletic players with high energy and a knack for being in the right spot at the right time are gold for NBA general managers. Just look at Kenneth Faried. Fair's size puts him in the dreaded "tweener" category -- meaning he may not have a true position at the next level (think Hakim Warrick without the size). But, as with Faired, I think that stigma is going away. Players play and Fair is a player. Does that translate to him going pro after this season? Well, I wouldn't dismiss that possibility, especially if Syracuse goes on a run in the tourney.
JR: I think he stays. He isn't the kind of guy who will be drafted on athleticism alone, and as far as he has developed his game he still needs some work in certain areas. If he was projected that high this season, I would say he's gone. But right now it would be a crapshoot for him to come out early.
Andy Pregler: I think it's clear: C.J. is pretty awesome, the true definition of a college player. He'll be a guy we all remember and will be returning to Syracuse next year in a leadership role and a candidate for ACC Player of the Year. I hope that if Syracuse were to go on a postseason run, talking heads don't make the same mistake as the Naismith Committee and exclude Fair from his deserved honors.