Looks like we’ll get our answer to “The Great C.J. Fair Question” as early as tomorrow. The junior has made his decision on whether he’s bolting for the NBA a year early, and will announce it at a press conference soon. He came to a conclusion while visiting his family in Baltimore over the weekend.
Orange Nation should take solace that he made his decision with the help of his inner circle. He’s been noticeably quiet on Twitter during the process. His last tweet came Thursday, and he has steered far away from discussing anything over social media about his situation since the season ended. That shows a restraint and intelligence about everything, instead of the usual impatient, bravado nature of college athletes.
Fair has always been one of the most enjoyable players to watch, because he worked hard on the little things. He’s never been the tallest, fastest, or most athletic Orange. But he’s polished himself into the best all-around player on the team by sheer virtue of hard work and basketball IQ. It culminated in him being the only shining star for SU during the Final Four loss to Michigan. A few more performances like C.J., and the Orange would’ve been headed to the title game.
It’s all of these reasons my hunch is he’s coming back. It’s no secret he’s projected to be a second-round pick. That means his contract would not be guaranteed. There’s no certainties of making the team he’s drafted by if he’s not a first-rounder. He could easily bounce around like Kris Joseph this season, from summer league, to D-League, to 15-day contract.
While Fair led Syracuse in scoring (14.5 points per game), rebounding (6.9 per game), and 3-point shooting percentage, my guess is he comes back to improve his stock for ’14. He’ll be the leader of next year’s Orange, a remarkably young team that will look to him for guidance every night. While next year’s draft is widely considered to have more talent, leaving early to be a second-round pick is a huge risk.
When you have a strong family around you, there’s less likelihood of chasing the money now. Bouncing ideas and decisions off of relatives (who are not looking to cash in on your talent), usually helps lend perspective and patience. C.J. has always been a smart player with long-term in mind. His game has never been about instant gratification. It’s always been about doing the little things now for pay off later on.
Don’t get freaked out that he’s holding the presser. Last week, Michigan’s Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III held a news conference to announce they were returning. Hakim Warrick had a presser to say he was staying too.
And if I’m wrong, and C.J. leaves early to follow the lead of Michael Carter-Williams, Dion Waiters, Jonny Flynn and Donte Greene to the pros? What if Fair’s departure means the Baby Orange have to rely on Trevor Cooney and Rak Christmas for consistent scoring? Well, can I interest you in the available NBA championships odds? It might be time to start trying to feel better about this spring.