Well, the season ended in disappointing fashion for the Syracuse University basketball team, but things have ended on a high note off the court for senior center Rakeem Christmas. Christmas was named first team All-Conference, as well as being named the ACC’s Most Improved Player, and was second in the voting for ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Rakeem made a well documented and massive jump from his first three seasons on the Hill to this year, in which he led the Orange with 17.5 points per game. That also ranked him third in the conference. He was also fourth in the ACC in rebounding, pulling down 9.1 boards per game, and second in blocked shots with 2.5 swats per contest. Christmas also shot 55.2% from the field, good for fifth in the ACC.
The St. Croix native, by way of Philadelphia, was the only Syracuse player represented on any of the All-ACC teams. Jahlil Okafor of Duke and Jerian Grant of Notre Dame were the only consensus first team All-ACC selections, with Christmas receiving the third highest point total in the voting, which was conducted by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.
Christmas was also an All-Defensive first team honoree, having been named on 58 of the 64 ballots submitted. Christmas received 24 votes for Most Improved Player, with the second highest vote-getter being Miami’s Tonye Jekiri with 14 votes. He also received one vote for ACC Player of the Year, an honor won by Duke’s Okafor.