When center Rakeem Christmas announced he will attend Syracuse Friday morning, it was cause for celebration for two reasons for Orange fans.
First of all, the 6-foot-8 Christmas is Rivals.com's ninth-ranked player in the Class of 2011 and his shot-blocking, length and athleticism make him an ideal fit for Syracuse's famous 2-3 zone. Secondly, the Orange out-dueled rival Georgetown for Christmas even though he was hardly even considering Syracuse as recently as two months ago and the Hoyas had been recruiting him for far longer.
"I had a lot of great options, but I fell in love with Syracuse," Christmas told FoxSports.com's Jeff Goodman. "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."
Christmas joins a 2011 recruiting class for Syracuse that is shaping up to be among the nation's best. After a strong 2010 class highlighted by five-star center Fab Melo and four-star guard Dion Waiters, the Orange have landed commitments from guards Trevor Cooney and Michael Carter-Williams already for 2011.
What sold Christmas on Syracuse was the visit the Philadelphia native took there last week. He liked the coaching staff, he realized he'd be a good fit in Syracuse's system and he immediately felt comfortable with the players since he knew Cooney, Carter-Williams and several current members of the team from high school or AAU ball.
It has to be galling for Georgetown to lose a top recruit to its biggest rival, but what adds to the frustration is that the Hoyas have yet to secure a commitment in the Class of 2011. The Hoyas also lost point guard Tyrone Johnson to Villanova and Branden Dawson to Michigan State, ratcheting up the pressure on John Thompson III and his staff to make a recruiting splash sometime soon.
At least for the moment, however, it's Syracuse's time to brag. An early Christmas gift gives the Orange plenty to look forward to in the future.