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Syracuse junior forward C.J. Fair to return for senior season

Apr 24, 2013, 4:21 PM EST

Syracuse v Marquette Getty Images

Having already lost starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams (leaving school for the NBA Draft), shooting guard Brandon Triche and small forward James Southerland (both out of eligibility), the Syracuse Orange were anxious to hear the plans of junior forward C.J. Fair.

After averaging 14.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for the Orange this season, there was the feeling in some circles that the Baltimore native would forego his final year of eligibility.

But in a press release Fair announced his intention to return for his senior campaign, which will also be Syracuse’s inaugural season in the ACC.

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

Had Fair decided to leave school early head coach Jim Boeheim would have to go about replacing four starters from a team that reached the Final Four in 2012-13.

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

Fair’s return gives the Orange not only an experienced leader to help shepherd the likes of freshmen Tyler Ennis (who will likely be the starting point guard), Ron Patterson and Tyler Roberson, but also a player who should factor into the preseason ACC Player of the Year conversation.

And with an eye towards the professional ranks there are still areas in which Fair needs to improve, as Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard noted that NBA scouts would like to see Fair “become less dependent on his left hand when driving to the basket and increase the speed of the release on his jump shot.”

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.