By D.E. Connors
In today’s world of college basketball, half the battle is recruiting. Coaches can win games, but players win championships. Coaches spend their summer days in hot, sweaty gyms, looking to find the best talent across the country for that simple reason.
Recruiting is vital in building a program and sustaining its success. This year’s Syracuse University three-man recruiting class though, could not only sustain the prestigious program, but hopefully, elevate it to a new status.
The class includes 6’9” center Rakeem Christmas, 6’5” guard Michael Carter-Williams and 6’4” guard Trevor Cooney. Each possess an array of skills as well as outstanding athleticism that will help the Orange in the future.
Christmas is an extremely athletic, defensive-oriented big man from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is ranked second among centers and nineteenth in the country in the class of 2011, according to the ESPNU Top 100 . Christmas was honored as one of the top players in his class by being selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game as well as the Jordan Brand Classic.
Alex Kline of TheRecruitScoop.com called him, “one of the best defensive players in the class of 2011.” Christmas is quick off his feet, runs the floor well and can jump out of the gym. Christmas excels in the paint on both sides of the ball. Offensively, he is a rim-rattler who finds most of his points on dunks and in transition. Defensively, he uses his 88’ wingspan to block and disrupt shots and grab rebounds. Christmas is an excellent fit in the Syracuse 2-3 zone, where his long arms and intimidating presence will keep opponents out of the paint. He is expected to move into the rotation and play significant minutes as a freshman.
Although it may be ambitious to expect Christmas to score the way his predecessor, Rick Jackson did, it is fair to believe that he will protect the rim and hit the glass like Orange fans are used to.