Fab Melo may not be the most lauded player coming into the NBA draft, but he is most certainly one of the most improved over his college career.
The Big East Defensive Player of the Year made a name for himself playing for the Syracuse Orange and head coach Jim Boeheim.
The 7’0’’ center averaged 7.8 points per game, 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and managed to sink over 56 percent of his shots. His biggest impact came from the non-statistical side of his game, however, in the way that he dominated the paint on offense and defense, with or without the ball in his hands.
Yet, that season came to an early end for Melo when poor academics caused the NCAA to suspend him for three games early on in the season and for the entirety of March and the NCAA tournament. This loss was a huge blow to Syracuse’s title chances last year, especially given the fact that many picked the Orange to make it to the Final Four given Melo’s defensive prowess.
Melo, who has been traveling across the country interviewing and working out for multiple NBA teams, spoke with The Associated Press about the troubles.
“It was academic,” Melo said after his Tuesday workout for the Indiana Pacers. “They ask, I explain (what) happened—that I came from another country and until four years ago didn’t even speak English.”
Melo hopes that his suspension will not affect his draft stock, and is taking the time now to explain to both NBA scouts and the public that there were no other issues besides his academics that caused him to miss the NCAA tournament.
“It was very difficult not to be able to play,” Melo said. “But that’s something I couldn’t do anything about.”
The Syracuse Orange, despite winning 34 games and making a good run in the tournament, had a very troubling season besides Fab Melo’s issues. Assistant coach Bernie Fine was hit with sex-abuse allegations early on last season. Following that, the NCAA announced an investigation into the team about possible violations of the team’s drug policy.
In terms of the NBA draft, Melo is still expected to go somewhere late in the first round. He has made it clear to NBA coaches that he is not a veteran at the game of basketball by any means and that he is still young in his play, providing teams a chance at developing an all-star player.
“I think they’re comfortable with (my answers),” Melo said. “And I’m still new to the game.”
You can “like” Arena Pulse on Facebook.
Be sure to Follow Ryan Resch on Twitter: @rjmresch