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Fair to return to SU for final year

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SYRACUSE — C. J. Fair looked at the big picture, and decided another year at Syracuse was the best thing for him, his family and his professional future.

The 6-foot-8 Orange junior forward, who led SU in scoring and rebounding this past season, announced Wednesday his intention to return to Syracuse for his senior year.

The second-team All-Big East Conference performer considered entering his name in the 2013 NBA draft, but chose to come back to SU for his fourth year of eligibility and to complete his degree work.

“After talking it over with my family and my coaches, I decided another year at Syracuse was best for me,” Fair said. “I’m excited about working hard with my teammates to put together another great season and graduating has also been a goal of mine.”

Fair, a native of Baltimore, led Syracuse in scoring (14.5) and rebounding (7.0) this past season. The Orange went 30-10 and advanced to the Final Four before ending its season in a 61-56 loss to Michigan in the national semifinals. Fair averaged 15.4 points per game in five NCAA Tournament games, and was named to the NCAA East Regional all-tournament team.

“This is great news for our basketball program and for C.J.,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. “I believe he’s just going to keep getting better and better as a basketball player and earning his degree is important.”

Fair was predicted to be a late first round or early second round draft pick if he had decided to leave. But he said another year of work at SU will greatly enhance his draft status next season.

“Coach (Boeheim) helped me make my decision, what my draft status will be this season as opposed to next season,” Fair said. “I think, ultimately, my draft status will be higher next year.”

Fair’s return gives a big boost to an SU program which is transitioning to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. The Orange is losing seniors Brandon Triche and James Southerland to graduation, and sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams previously announced he was leaving school and entering the draft.

Fair started all 40 games for SU in his junior season and became the 58th player in school history to surpass 1,000 career points. He scored in double figures 32 times this season.

“With me coming back, it’s definitely going to help our chances in the ACC and as far as the NCAA tournament,” Fair said. “Our first year in the ACC is something me and the team are looking forward to.”

He was the Big East Conference Player of the Week once and earned a spot on the league’s weekly honor roll twice in 2012-13. In addition, Fair was named to the NABC All-District 5 second team.

Fair became a much more consistent offensive performer this season, adding the 3-point shot to his arsenal. He shot 46.9 percent from 3-point range, 47 percent overall, and also had 45 steals and 42 blocks.

Fair is on track to graduate with his class next spring.

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