Fab Melo Drops 30 Pounds, Continues to Evolve
his freshman season, Fab Melo shed 30 pounds. At 244 pounds, he's
leaner, quicker and his improvement is one of the keys to the season for
the top-ranked Orange.
At 20-0, Syracuse is off to its best start ever headed into Saturday's 6 p.m. game at Notre Dame (11-9, 3-4 Big East).
"He is," Boeheim says, "one of the most improved players I've seen in a long time."
Melo did it with old fashioned hard work in the gym and by drastically changing his diet.
just gave up junk food and now I have a better diet," the 21-year-old
says, giving a nod to the advice he received from Brad Pike, SU's head
trainer, and Ryan Cabiles, its director of strength and conditioning.
eats a lot more fruits and vegetables and tries to never eat after 9
p.m. Now he's stronger, faster running the court and definitely quicker
off his feet and blanketing the lane at the back of the zone.
Two statistics amplify that.
averages three blocks per game, which ranks second in the Big East and
12th nationally, and has taken 17 charges. That's more than triple the
next highest on the team.
"Four charges in the first
half? That's unheard of," junior guard Brandon Triche said after Melo
drew four of them after picking up two early fouls against Marquette.
"He's moving his feet well. A guy who is a great shot-blocker like
(that), people are going to try to attack him."
"Fab Melo changed that game defensively," senior point guard Scoop Jardine says.
Seton Hall employed that strategy in SU's Big East opener, Melo swatted
a school-record 10 blocks for his first double-double. In Monday's win
over Pittsburgh, he had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocks for his
He had none last year. In fact, he grabbed more
than four rebounds only twice and had only 25 blocks in 33 games while
averaging just 2.3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 0.8 blocks.
that's because he averaged only 9.9 minutes. Boeheim couldn't play him
much because of the speed of the game and Melo's lack of stamina.
really like a senior in high school (or) early freshman in college
right now because last year he couldn't play enough because of the
conditioning factor," Boeheim says. "This should be his freshman year
and he'd be making great progress for a freshman."
playing 22.6 minutes per game this season, which is about average on
this balanced SU squad, and is averaging 7.2 points and 5.7 rebounds.
could tell he had good feet last year, he was just heavy and slower,"
Villanova coach Jay Wright says. "I've been very impressed with his
The statistical jump alone makes him a
candidate for the Big East Most Improved Player award, but Wright says
Melo's presence makes SU a better team overall defensively because now
its big guards and athletic forwards can extend and go for steals.
seems to me to be a guy that in one year picked up very quickly that he
can affect a game by blocking shots and protecting the basket," Wright
Like most boys in Brazil, Melo grew up playing
soccer. He was a goalie. But by ninth grade and with a size 18 shoe, he
shifted to basketball. His mother thought he'd develop better in
America, so Melo moved to Miami with a cousin.
He was a
McDonald's and Parade All-American and rated the No. 14 overall recruit
by ESPN, but he hadn't faced great competition and his weight
fluctuated. He topped out once at 281 pounds. Melo was named Big East
preseason Rookie of the Year more on reputation, than results.
just part of the system and world we live in now," Georgetown coach
John Thompson III says, adding that Melo wasn't different than a lot of
Melo struggled from the start.
think I was a little afraid of everything," he told ESPN earlier this
season. "I knew it would be hard, but I don't think I realized how hard
it would be. Now it's all just a lot easier."
showed flashes of his potential late last season in the regular-season
finale against DePaul (10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks) and a Big East
Tournament win over St. John's (career-high 12 points, which he has
matched twice this season).
Playing with the Brazilian national team in China in the World University Games also boosted his confidence.
Then he spent part of the summer in Syracuse.
he came back from China, you could see the hunger in his eyes," SU
senior forward Kris Joseph says. "He was in the weight room ...he was
getting in extra cardio after a cardio preseason workout. It showed how
much he wanted to win."
Before Melo got to SU, some
predicted he could jump to the NBA after one year in college. He never
thought that. It was just the hype machine. But now after showing such
dramatic improvement, Melo can start dreaming that dream again when the
day comes that he'll join SU's other famous Melo, Knicks all-star
Carmelo Anthony, in the NBA.
"He's still evolving,
still learning," Boeheim says. "He's still very much a work in progress
... and he's just barely scratching the surface."