Michael Carter-Williams has gotten the most national attention among this year’s Syracuse Orange. Ranking among the country’s top five in both assists and steals will do that. Being projected as the sixth pick in the upcoming NBA draft doesn’t hurt either.
Brandon Triche has gotten his share of national attention and a lot of local attention this season. Being the team’s leading scorer while running his consecutive games started streak to 129 will do that. Hailing from local Jamesville doesn’t hurt either.
But, as the headline says, junior forward C.J. Fair has been this team’s true MVP.
Fair set the tone with 17 points and 10 rebounds, leading the Orange to a tough win over No. 20 San Diego State in the season’s opener. Fair has had six more double-doubles since that game. That puts him second on the team, one behind Carter-Williams.
Fair's latest double-double? That would be his 18 points and 10 rebounds in leading the Orange to a 63-47 win over No. 25 Notre Dame Monday night. A true MVP not only puts up big numbers, he does it when they’re needed. Fair has done that both in the season’s first game and its most recent.
Fair came up big against the Irish, thus helping the Orange break their two-game losing streak. The win tonight pushed their home winning streak to 36, both a school record and the longest active streak in the nation.
Fair was the most valuable player in a win that will have a huge positive impact on the psyche of the entire team moving forward.
He has far and away been the team’s most consistent player. Consider that he’s the team’s best free-throw shooter, hitting 83 percent from the line. Again, not only numbers, but numbers when they count.
Fair was 9-of-10 from the line in the 72-66 win over Providence, 4-of-4 in the 70-68 win over Louisville and 2-of-2 in the 57-55 win over Cincinnati.
Speaking of the win over the Bearcats, Fair not only made both of his free throws, but made a steal with 47 seconds left and the score tied at 55. His amazing offensive rebound and tip-in with 22 seconds left sealed the two-point win.
Fair hasn’t missed a minute in the last five games. His 33.1 minutes per game average is second on the team, as are his 13.9 points per game. Fair leads the Orange with 7.1 rebounds per game.
Since arriving at the Dome three years ago, Fair has shown stupid athletic ability. Slowly but surely, he’s moved his ability to score farther and farther from the basket. Considering his great talent at the rim, it’s almost unfair to watch him develop his mid-range game and actually shoot 40.7 percent from long distance this season.
Fair's impact on the team goes far beyond his numbers, which are outstanding. He gives the team consistency and huge minutes, which has been critical with James Southerland having missed the last six games and DaJuan Coleman out for the next month.
He’s come through in critical moments and made huge plays that have impacted games and led to wins.
I’m doubting Fair really cares about either national or local attention, just about doing whatever’s needed at the time to help his team win yet another game. Soon he’ll find that those go hand in hand and the name C.J. Fair will be known not only in the Salt City, but across the college basketball landscape.
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