As we count down to the start of the basketball season, we’re going to be highlighting each member of the Syracuse basketball team. Today’s spotlight is on forward CJ Fair.
In CJ Fair’s first two years at Syracuse, he mainly played a supporting role. Last year, Fair was SU’s glue guy—he would be counted on to get a key rebound, dive for a loose ball, or play tough defense.
But in Fair’s third year on The Hill, he will have to do more. The junior from Baltimore will be looked at to become a leader and a go to scorer on a team that has lost nearly 58 percent of its scoring punch from last season.
With the graduation of Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine and the defections of Fab Melo and Dion Waiters to the NBA, Fair is one of the Orange’s key returning players.
“I think every year when you lose guys, other guys have to step up,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “The other forwards, C.J. Fair and James Southerland, I think are well prepared to step in and play well.”
Fair improved several aspects of his game last season, most notably his outside shooting. Though he finished the season at just 25 percent from downtown (6 for 24), he started off the season 4 for 8.
That should be more consistent this year.
“I will basically take what the defense gives me,” Fair said. “I want to be more effective on the three point line and that’s something I’ve been working on. I just want to have the whole package now.”
Part of the complete package includes his leadership.
In his first two seasons, Fair was more than happy to defer to his elder teammates, including Joseph and Jardine. Now that both are gone, Boeheim has been pressing Fair to become more vocal.
“He keeps saying I’m the leader of the team. That’s kind of out of my comfort zone but I’m willing to do that,” Fair said. “I usually say I lead by example but I have to be more vocal, and that’s something I’ve been working on the most.”
But some things never change.
Like Fair’s first two seasons at SU, the expectations are high, and Fair expects that he and his team will meet the challenges.
“I’m very confident in this team, I think we can go deep in the tournament with this team and maybe take it all the way,” Fair said. “I’m very excited for this season to start.”
Inside Shot: “Fair’s mid-range jump shot is already solid and he’s shown flashes of a decent outside shot (despite shooting only 25 percent from 3), but if Fair is going to make ‘The Leap’ and shoulder a significant portion of the scoring load, he’s going to have to be able to put the ball on the floor and knock down a higher percentage of his long range shots.” —Nate Federman