C.J. Fair opts to return to Syracuse for senior season

With C.J. Fair coming back, Syracuse has options and should contend in its new home, the ACC. (USATSI)

It's turning into a good day for college basketball, as Syracuse junior forward C.J. Fair announced he'll play one more year with the program. The news broke Wednesday afternoon, shortly after Russ Smith made the choice to head back to Louisville for his senior season.

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

Fair was seen as a fringe first-round pick at best despite averaging team-bests of 14.5 points and 6.9 rebounds in 2012-13. The last time a Syracuse player did that and returned to school was Hakim Warrick nearly a decade ago, the Post-Standard notes. With Fair, generally speaking, his stock has improved with each year of college. A big senior season in a very tough league could certainly solidify his status as a first-round guy.

In the short-term, now Syracuse has a premier go-to guy for next season, which will be pivotal given the team's move to the stacked ACC. SU loses point guard Michael Carter-Williams and James Southerland to early draft entry in addition to senior Brandon Triche.

"This is great news for our basketball program and for C.J.," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said in a statement. "I believe he's just going to keep getting better and better as a basketball player and earning his degree is important."

Under the presumption that Fair would return, Syracuse was ranked No. 11 in CBSSports.com's way-too-early Top 25 (and one) from earlier this month. Fair scored 22 in Syracuse's Final Four loss to Michigan. He could very well land on the 2013-14 ACC First Team in the preseason.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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