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Rakeem Christmas took a backseat to Fab Melo last season—apparently players named Melo command some respect at SU—but with Fabio now trying to take his game to the next level at the NBA Draft in a few weeks, there will be a lot of room down low for Rakeem Christmas to show why he was one of the most talked-about big men coming out of high school for the class of 2011.
Plus, Syracuse will need someone to fill that hole left by Melo. When he became ineligible for March Madness last season because of academic reasons, it was clear the team wasn't the same. Who knows how deep into the tournament they would've gone if they had their big man to anchor the defense down low.
Rakeem is going to be a presence with his 7'2" wingspan. The best part about him is that despite the fact that he's big enough to bang down low with some of the bigger bodies in the league, he will still command respect from opposing centers all the way out to 15 feet from the basket, where he's shown his ability to consistently knock down jumpers. With a few head fakes, Christmas can explode to the basket like a guard and throw it down like the big man that he is.
If Christmas can live up to the hype and play at a consistently high level, look for him to be among the leagues leading rebounders and blockers next season.
Yes, the Orange have a lot of questions going into next season, but they have reason to be thankful, too. Christmas comes a little early this year.
I couldn't resist the pun.