Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Rakeem Christmas to Syracuse; Seton Hall Officially adds Polynice
Christmas came early for Syracuse this year.
Rakeem Christmas, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound center from Academy of the New Church outside Philly, announced that he will play for the Orange beginning in 2011. Christmas is the No. 1 center in the Class of 2011, according to Rivals.
Kevin Givens, Christmas’s high school coach at Academy of the New Church, said the final three schools were Syracuse, Georgetown and Florida International.
“I had a lot of great options, but I fell in love with Syracuse,” Christmas told Fox Sports.com. “I know a lot of the guys on the team and that made a difference in my decision. I also felt that I could fit in well with their system.”
Givens said Christmas would be a great fit at Syracuse, known for producing quality big men.
“He’s an open floor player and they like to run the ball and push the ball,” Givens said. “He plays that run-and-gun type of offense. “He’ll be just fine for Syracuse.”
Many Division 1 coaches this summer said they wanted to see Christmas, a talented rebounder and shot-blocker, become more assertive on the offensive end.
Givens agreed and said he hoped to make that happen next season.
“Part of my job this year is making him a much more aggressive player and I think that will come,” Givens said by phone.
“He’ll have to develop the passion for the game. He’s going to need that at the Big East level playing for Syracuse.”
Givens pointed out that Christmas, who runs in the summer with a Team Final club that includes Kentucky-bound Mike Gilchrist and Villanova-bound Tyrone Johnson, has only been playing organized ball for a short time.
“One of the things that people don’t understand about Rakeem is he’s only going into his fourth season as a basketball player,” Givens said.
“The maturity’s gotta happen and once that starts to mature, he’ll become a much more aggressive player and become much more intense.”
Christmas is currently at the Nike Global Challenge in Portland, Ore. and was selected to play in the Boost Mobile Elite 24 game Aug. 28 in Venice Beach, Calif.
Syracuse already had commitments from 2011 guards Michael Carter-Williams and Trevor Cooney, also a Team Final member, and had one scholarship to give.
The addition of Christmas likely means 6-10 Anthony Davis is out, although a Syracuse source said the staff had not been told by Anthony Davis Sr. that his son will attend Kentucky.
If Syracuse loses Kris Joseph and incoming freshman Fab Melo to the NBA, the Orange would theoretically have one more ship to give for Davis.
SETON HALL OFFICIALLY ADDS POLYNICE
After Mississippi transfer Eniel Polynice was officially cleared by the NCAA Thursday, Seton Hall announced he had joined the program for 2010.
Polynice has received a waiver from the NCAA that will allow him to play immediately for the Pirates and not have to sit out a year per standard transfer regulations. The 6-foot-5 guard graduated from Ole Miss earlier this year with one year of eligibility remaining. Because the University of Mississippi does not offer a graduate degree in his field of study (communications), Polynice was granted the ability to pursue additional education without penalty at an institution that does offer his preferred graduate program.
“Adding a player of Eniel’s talent and experience is a significant improvement to our roster for next season,” head coach Kevin Willard said. “He has proven to be a productive player and leader for a team competing in a high-major conference. We believe his court-sense and discipline will provide good mentorship on and off the floor.”
Polynice was a member of the Rebels’ program for four years, but was a medical redshirt during the 2008-09 season following knee surgery. He has played in 102 games and made 65 starts while averaging 7.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. A member of the UMAA Academic Honor Roll, Polynice is one of only three players in Ole Miss history to record over 700 career points, 300 rebounds and 300 assists.
Last season, Polynice made 25 starts and averaged 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and a team-high 3.9 assists per game. He led the team in assists 18 times and in rebounds four times. Against Alabama State, Polynice had his best all-around game of the season with 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, four steals and one block.
Polynice joins four true freshmen, 6-foot-9 forward Patrik Auda, 6-foot-6 swing man Fuquan Edwin, 6-foot-11 center Aaron Geramipoor and 6-foot-8 forward Anali Okoloji, as a member of the 2010-11 recruiting class.
(Photo courtesy Rivals.com)
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.