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Syracuse’s Underrated Star: C.J. Fair Perfects the Lost Art of Old School

Pop quiz Orange fans: Which SU player has the most rebounds, plays the second most minutes, and is third on the team in scoring? You might be surprised at the answer. It’s C.J. Fair.

C.J. didn’t arrive at Syracuse with much fanfare. There was litte hype left over after being part of a class with Fab Melo and Dion Waiters. Fast forward to this year, where Fab and Dion still have garnered a lot of attention this season as the super sophomores that can carry this team. But it’s time to give #5 some love. Jim Boeheim knows what he is getting every night when Fair steps on the court. He is the most consistent and reliable Orange player. C.J. does all the little things well, and the young fella can throw it down too.

Last season C.J was limited offensively. This season he has developed a smooth mid-range jumper that has taken his game to new heights. It has helped him become a more potent threat to stretch out defenses, and provides more lanes for him and his teammates. His baseline jumper has become money and Fair takes it with confidence. To keep defenders on their toes he can step behind the line and pop a three. Fair doesn’t try to dazzle you on offense, but he does what he is asked. He is always in the right position for easy put backs and second chance opportunities. He also can finish around the rim with the best of them. The Baltimore product has scored in double-digits in eight Big East games, and has been the steadiest Orange over the last month. Fair is a silent assassin and has carried Syracuse with both great offensive and defensive play.

C.J. plays an old-school game meaning his contemporaries have a hard time defending him. He also plays “silent defense.” Faird oesn’t come away with highlight blocks or steals, but opponents have a hard time penetrating his wing. #5 plays a picture perfect defensive stance where he gets low, shuffles his feet and play with his legs and body instead of his hands. He has a very high basketball IQ and is the type of player ideal for Boeheim’s zone.

Fair is also Syracuse’s best rebounder. Without him, SU would be doomed on the boards. Boxing out is becoming a lost art in basketball, but not for C.J. He has great positioning, placing the opponent behind him and he gets the ball at its highest point. Vintage rebounding. He is a true hustle player and never gives up on a play. C.J. is always coming up with loose balls and errant rebounds. These small things don’t pop out in a stat sheet but are crucial in winning a game.

The comparison has been made that Fair is the reincarnation of Josh Pace. They both wear #5, are lefties, and have that same role as the “glue-guy.” Pace and Fair don’t have a similar playing style. Josh was more of a guard/forward and slasher, while C.J. is a monster rebounder who plays down low. Both have very efficient games and play within themselves.

Scoop Jardine’s thought on Fair earlier this year: “You know that guy who always makes the right play, at the right time, at the right moment? That’s C.J. He’s always in the best position to make a bucket. If he keeps playing like this, we have a really great chance of winning the National Championship”

His teammates know how valuable he is, and it’s time for everyone to appreciate Fair’s game. C.J. is a huge reason why this team is ranked #2 in the country and will be a key cog as this team dances into the NCAA tournament.

Posted: Dave Van Moffaert

 

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