The 2014-2015 season will be remembered as one of controversy, disappointment, and headlines. What people may not remember five years down the road is the year that senior Rakeem Christmas put together despite all of the off-court distractions and team struggles.
The Associated Press named Christmas a Third-Team All American earlier in the week, the second straight year an Orange forward has taken home the title. Last season, CJ Fair earned the same honor. Christmas’s season was much more impressive than Fair’s, however, who had a very good team around him and the help of a number one ranking in polls. Aside from Fair, the last SU player to be named to an All American team was Wesley Johnson, who was named to the First Team in 2009-2010.
SU, which has been known for producing quality guards in program history, had a breakout center for the first time in a while. This could help convince other big men to come play in Central New York, especially after seeing Christmas’ development over a four-year period. Rak, in his senior season, put up 17.5 poitns per game, 9.1 rebounds per game, and 2.5 blocks per game, despite being double-teamed in the post during the second half of the season. His scoring output tripled from his junior season, and he is currently in contention for plenty of other annual awards, like the Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award. He was also on the list of 15 Wooden Award finalists, although he didn’t make the final cut.
Joining Christmas on the third team are Buddy Hield from Oklahoma, who played in the Dome last weekend, Kyle Wiltjer from Gonzaga, Georges Niang from Iowa State, and Kevin Pangos from Gonzaga. Three other ACC players were named to one of the first three teams, Jerian Grant and Jahlil Okafor to the first team, and Malcolm Brogdon to the second team.
In a year littered with talented big men like Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Frank Kaminsky, and Seth Tuttle, it’s actually pretty impressive that Christmas made the cut, especially with the Orange being absent from postseason play.
What’s next for Christmas? The NBA Draft on Thursday, June 25. Keep an eye on his draft stock over the next few months and check back with the Fizz to see some analysis about where he might end up.
Posted By: Jason Weingold