It wasn't exactly expected to happen so soon, but the nation's No. 9-ranked prospect handed down a decision Friday morning. The 6-foot-9 Rakeem Christmas of Bryn Athyn (Pa.) Academy of the New Church announced that he'll be playing in the Big East.
Seemingly not a huge factor as recently as two months ago, Jim Boeheim's Syracuse Orange worked the big man and earned his commitment after a recent visit.
"I think Rakeem is a big who wants to be comfortable with the staff and the players," said his Team Final summer coach Rob Brown. He's very comfortable with the staff and the players there."
It didn't hurt that there were already some guys in Syracuse that Christmas knew and fellow Orange commit Trevor Cooney picked up his first college assist.
"They've got a couple of upperclassmen from Philly and Dion Waiters played with Team Final," said Brown. "Trevor Cooney formed a very strong relationship with him and spent a lot of time on the road rooming with him and things like that and they developed a pretty strong bond."
A sometimes frustrating player because of his ability to both dominate and disappear in the same game, Christmas is still a guy who is capable of making an immediate impact.
"Defensively he's going to step in right away and be tremendous for them. He's probably the best weak-side shot blocker in the country," said Brown. "Offensively he's not as raw as people think. He's skilled, I just don't think he understands what it takes to have consistent effort on that end."
Even with his inconsistency, the five-star big man is a major pickup for Syracuse and it's quite likely that his best basketball is ahead of him.
"He's really matured a lot over the last year and I think the coaches at Syracuse will get the best out of him," finished Brown. "We haven't seen the best of Rakeem Christmas yet."