Fair remains borderline NBA Draft selection after staying for senior season

first_imgC.J. Fair was mulling over one of the biggest decisions of his life this time a year ago.Now, as he travels across the country auditioning for half of the NBA, he’s out to prove that he benefited from returning to Syracuse for his senior season. “There’s no regrets,” said Carl Fair, his father. “We knew last year that this draft was going to be tougher but the thing is in the NBA, you go out there and play against top-line guys. “You worry about yourself, when you’re ready and the things you can improve on.”While former Syracuse teammates Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant are expected to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, Fair remains the biggest question mark of the three. Draft projections suggest he may have been better off going pro last year, when he was a borderline first-round prospect. This time, though, a stronger class gives Fair less of a chance to go in the first 30 picks. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut the predictions and mock drafts become irrelevant once the Cleveland Cavaliers are on the clock Thursday night, and Fair’s camp is confident he will hear his name called at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.“I had a chance last year, but I didn’t want to come to the NBA the third or fourth option on my team,” Fair said to reporters at the NBA Combine in May. “This year I was the first option. Knowing how to be consistent, bring my game each day, I think that’ll translate to the NBA.”And if Fair isn’t taken, it’s likely he’ll still get a shot at cracking an NBA roster as an undrafted free agent.“C.J. Fair is probably a second-round pick,” ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said in a teleconference Tuesday. “Not a great player, but a good one, and a guy that can certainly play in the NBA.”Although Fair led the Orange in scoring his junior year, James Southerland, Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams overshadowed him at times.But this past season, the SU offense ran mostly through Fair. He again topped SU in scoring while earning first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference and second-team All-American honors.Returning for his senior year was worth it, his father said.“I think (his game) improved,” Carl Fair said. “The NBA floor is a lot bigger. It’s spread out, and C.J. excels when he has room.”There is some doubt that Fair doesn’t have the ball-handling skills, 3-point shooting consistency or the ability to create off the dribble to make it as an NBA small forward — the position his father expects the 6-foot, 8-inch, 215-pound Fair to play.Some projections say he’ll be chosen in the second round this year; others think he’ll go undrafted. “I don’t think he was a big-time draft prospect a year ago and I don’t really think his status changed much,” DraftExpress.com’s Jonathan Givony said.Locked into the wings of Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone the past four years, Fair’s man-to-man defense is unknown.Still, the NBA teams he’s worked out for have liked what they’ve seen, Carl Fair said.“He can shoot better than they thought he could shoot,” he said. “Some teams said they think he can be a defensive stopper. He’s been playing great defense and they see him being able to come off picks and knock down open shots.“Nobody has said anything they don’t like about him. He’s been doing everything pretty solid.”By the time the draft starts, 15 teams will have given Fair an extensive look.His length served him well at Syracuse. His highlight-reel dunks proved his athleticism, and he was dangerous from mid-range. But whether or not Fair improved enough in other areas will be revealed Thursday night.“I think competition-wise, I’m really prepared,” Fair told reporters after his workout with the Utah Jazz this month. “I had teammates that are in the NBA now so I know what it takes to get to the NBA. Now it’s about me getting my opportunity and showing teams that I’m that guy.”Asst. copy editors Sam Blum and Matt Schneidman contributed reporting to this story. Comments Published on June 24, 2014 at 5:15 pm Contact Phil: pmdabbra@syr.edu | @PhilDAbb Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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