Big East Breakouts: Syracuse's Rakeem Christmas

By chrismolicki

Once recruiting is done in the college basketball offseason, there’s not a ton going on. It’s a bit too far to make serious predictions as well. So what I’m going to do is starting profiling certain Big East players who I believe are primed for a breakout season and will make big contributions for their respective teams. Today, I start with Syracuse‘s Rakeem Christmas.

Christmas will be a 6’9″ sophomore this year. He was highly touted as a freshman, but didn’t get a lot of minutes due to the frontcourt depth of Fab Melo, Kris Joseph, and James Southerland. Christmas wound up averaging 2.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.

The Philadelphia native is an interesting big man. Christmas has a versatile offensive game in the sense that he can hit mid range jumpers and also attack the basket off the dribble. Those are special tools for a man of his size. He also has great athleticism and length with a wingspan of 7’2″. Physical attributes like that will allow him to dominate the boards and block shots in the Big East.

However, like nearly every basketball player, Christmas has his flaws. He lacks the ability to play in the post, both on offense and defense. He needs to polish his game down low. He also has a questionable motor and often plays without motivation, similar to Perry Jones. That characteristic is something that can be fixed on a young player, but if Jim Boheim and company can’t help him, Christmas could be a burden at times.

This upcoming season, the Orange will likely start Christmas next to Southerland at center. He has the talent to be a double double machine, we’ll just see if he truly wants to be that.

Syracuse looks to have another stellar season ahead of them and will try to contend for a Big East title before they leave for the ACC. Christmas is a key in that process.

For more about the Big East, follow Chris on Twitter.

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