Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Can C.J. Fair Win the 2014 Wooden Award?


On Thursday, Eamonn Brennan of ESPN.com released his latest Wooden Watch. Brennan listed Syracuse forward C.J. Fair fourth on the Wooden Watch.

The Orange have a 22-0 record and are the top ranked team in the Associated Press, AP, Top 25. Fair has played a significant role in the Orange’s best start in the program’s history.

He is averaging 16.7 points per game, on 43.8 field goal shooting, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.7 blocks this season. In every category but field goal shooting, he ranks inside the top three among on the team.

Prior to Monday’s game against Notre Dame, Fair had scored in double digits in 17 consecutive games. This includes a season-high 28 points to help the Orange defeat then seventh-ranked Duke 91-89 on Saturday.

On Monday, Fair did struggle against the Fighting Irish.

He scored only six points while making only two of 13 field goal attempts; 15.4 field goal percentage. He was able to salvage the terrible shooting by grabbing five rebounds, dishing three assists, blocking one shot and stealing the ball once in the Orange’s 61-55 victory.

Fair’s poor performance on Monday did not persuade Brennan from moving him out of the Wooden Watch.

Brennan had him listed fourth for the second consecutive week behind Creighton forward Doug McDermott, Blue Devils’ forward Jabari Parker and Arizona guard Nick Johnson, according to ESPN.com.

Brennan wrote in his weekly article why he kept Fair fourth on the Wooden Watch.

…But Fair did play probably his worst game of the season (on Monday night). File this under the Nick Johnson ‘So what?’ file: On Saturday night Fair unleashed one of the most beautiful, brilliant individual scoring performances I’ve seen a long time. His Saturday against Duke was the fully realized C.J. Fair, the Fair that Jim Boeheim has seen in his mind’s eye for years, the one who had Duke fans pleading for mercy — the Fair who went so far above and beyond his “reliable workhorse” baseline that he was bound to suffer a slight hangover come Monday night. Well-earned.”

Fair’s  superb play has played a large role in Brennan listing him on the Wooden Watch. It was unknown what to expect from the Orange in their first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, ACC.

Many NCAA Basketball experts and fans are surprised that the Orange are still undefeated in their first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, ACC. Fair’s senior leadership has also contributed to the Orange’s superb play this season and it has helped him land a spot on the Wooden Watch.

The Wooden Watch is a list of NCAA Division I basketball athletes that Brennan believes has the best chance to win the prestigious John R. Wooden Award. The Wooden Award, named after legendary UCLA head coach John R. Wooden, is given to “The Outstanding College Basketball Player in the United States,” according to woodenaward.com.

There are two things Fair will have to do in order to have a chance at winning the 2014 Wooden Award. The first thing Fair has to do is perform like he has for the majority of the season.

He has scored in double digits in 20 of 22 games this season. This includes a dominant performance against the Blue Devils on Saturday.

If Fair can continue his superb performances, then he should have a great opportunity to win the Wooden Award. The other thing Fair has to do is help the Orange win.

McDermott and Parker are having amazing seasons. They are both dynamic players and have been front-runners for the Wooden Award for the majority of the season.

The Wooden Award voters will always consider the best player on the best team in the country. The Orange are currently the top ranked team, but the Basketball Power Index have given them a small chance of going undefeated.

They still have to play three teams that are inside the AP Top 25. Those teams are 25th-ranked Pittsburgh on Wednesday, the 11th-ranked Blue Devils on Feb. 22 and 20th-ranked Virginia on March 1.

This has contributed to the Basketball Power Index giving the Orange a 4.7 percent chance to end the regular season, according to Ryan Feldman of ESPN.com. If the Orange can end the season undefeated with those odds, then the Wooden Award voting committee would have to give great consideration to Fair.

Fair has tremendous competition for the 2014 Wooden Award. His next opportunity to improve his Wooden Award chances will be on Sunday against unranked Clemson.

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Tags: C.J. Fair Syracuse Orangemen

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