Syracuse's Fab Melo to enter NBA draft
SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Syracuse center Fab Melo is entering the NBA draft after a breakout season in which he twice was held out because of eligibility issues.
The 7-foot sophomore from Brazil made the announcement Thursday. He averaged 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds for Syracuse (34-3) this past season. He led the Big East in blocks per game and was named the conference's defensive player of the year.
"Being able to play professional basketball has been my dream since I first starting playing this game and now I have the opportunity to accomplish that dream," Melo said in a statement. "Coach (Jim) Boeheim and the rest of the Syracuse staff have helped me develop as a player and as a man, and I will always be appreciative for what they've done for me."
Melo missed three games in late January due to an academic issue, was reinstated, and just before the start of the NCAA tournament was ruled ineligible again and did not play another game.
The Orange, the East's top seed, still advanced to the round of eight before a loss to Ohio State deprived them of a berth in the Final Four.
Melo had 88 blocks this season for Syracuse, which was ranked No. 1 for six weeks. The Orange opened the season with 20 straight wins before losing 67-58 at Notre Dame without Melo. Syracuse then won 11 in a row.
Melo was just one of several storylines in an Orange season that won't soon be forgotten. It began with the dismissal of associate head coach Bernie Fine after two former ballboys accused him of sexually molesting them in the 1980s. While charges have yet to be filed against Fine, he was fired in late November. Boeheim and the university are also facing a defamation suit filed by the ballboys -- Bobby Davis and stepbrother Mike Lang.
Despite the issues, the Orange finished 17-1 in conference play.