June 30, 2012

Melo took a winding road to the Celts

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Fab Melo


Jared Sullinger, Ohio State, 6-9, 268, power forward: Productive guy who plays mostly below the rim.

Fab Melo, Syracuse, 7-0, 255, center: Shot-blocker who can fill up the lane defensively.

Kris Joseph, Syracuse, 6-7, 215, small forward: A project, most analysts agree.

At first it seemed good. Coach Jim Boeheim inserted Melo in the starting lineup for the 2010-11 opener and though he started 24 games, Melo wasn't prepared for the pace and physical nature of the Big East.

Melo also found it difficult to deal with Boeheim's quick substitutions, missed two practices and was benched. He ended his rookie season averaging 2.3 points and 1.9 rebounds, and had only 25 blocks, then landed in City Court on a misdemeanor charge that summer after a fight with his girlfriend.

He was accused of breaking the turn-signal arm of his girlfriend's car during an argument, pleaded not guilty, and his record was sealed after he underwent counseling and stayed out of further trouble.

"It was more the pressure that I had to be like Carmelo Anthony," Melo said. "It was something I didn't expect. I think that was the toughest thing for me. I'm still new to the game."

Seemingly overnight, Melo morphed into a defensive monster. After playing last summer for Brazil's national team at the World University Games in China, he returned to school more than 30 pounds lighter.

Despite a three-game suspension at midseason for academics, Melo shot 56.6 percent from the field, averaged 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds, and registered 88 blocks, probably altering three shots for every block.

His presence in the middle of Boeheim's zone defense helped lead the Orange to No. 1 in the nation for six weeks and earned him Big East defensive player of the year. He also became adept at taking charges in the paint.

"Every rookie is unique," said Danny Ainge, president of basketball operations for the Celtics. "I know he can block shots. He both blocks shots and takes charges. That's unique for a big guy."

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