Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim continued to build on his No. 5-ranked 2011 class on Friday by landing ESPNU 100 power forward Rakeem Christmas (Philadelphia/Academy of the New Church). He is the third ESPNU 100 recruit to pledge to the Orangemen this year, following shooting guards Michael Carter-Williams (Hamilton, Mass./St. Andrew's) and Trevor Cooney (Wilmington, Del./Sanford).
While Carter-Williams and Cooney are big-time shooters, Christmas will make an immediate impact for Boeheim's squad thanks to his size (6-foot-9, 222 pounds), skill, talent and great upside. He is a true power forward who is a mobile athlete, a tremendous shot-blocker and can score inside. Plus, he has the ability to put it on the floor and drive to the rim from short distances.
The one thing Christmas needs to work on to prepare for the Big East is his strength; however, he is a great fit at Syracuse. Bigs are essential in Boeheim's 2-3 zone defense and Christmas will be able to be plugged in because of his ability to defend the basket.
Christmas, who is the No. 8-ranked player in the 2011 class, chose Syracuse over Georgetown, Florida, Florida International, Oklahoma and Rutgers.
Reggie Rankin was an assistant coach at seven schools for 13 seasons, most recently at Dayton. He played at Ohio University from 1986-90 and was an All-MAC first-teamer in his senior season.