Fabricio Paulino de Melo, better known as Fab, was selected by the Celtics with the 22nd pick in the draft. His game is very raw and he is definitely going to be a project. He just started playing basketball 3 or 4 years ago, and spent just 2 years at Syracuse honing his skills so he still has much to learn. But, coaches and scouts have been impressed with his willingness and ability to learn.
A native of Brazil, Melo did not start playing competitive basketball until the ninth grade. Melo's lost his dad to a heart attack when he was just a toddler. Melo's mother sent her teenage son away from his hometown in Brazil to live in Florida with a host family and with a dream of playing professional basketball, but little else. Soccer was his first love, and he was very good at it, but at 7 feet tall and with size 18 feet, he had outgrown that sport and was encouraged by his coach to play basketball.
He enrolled in Sagemont High School in Weston Florida in 2008 as a junior. He sat out a year of interscholastic competition because of Florida High School transfer rules for international players and played his senior year. Sagemont finished the year with a 23-8 record and Fab was ranked the top center in the ESPN Top 100 rankings for the class of 2010.
After high school, he enrolled at Syracuse and started 24 games his freshman year. Melo wasn't prepared for how fast and physical college basketball was. He was overweight and out of shape and often could be seen gasping for air as he struggled to keep up with his teammates on the court. He averaged just 2.3 points and 1.9 rebounds with only 25 blocks in his rookie season. After the season he was charged with a misdemeanor after a fight with his girlfriend. He pleaded not guilty and his record was sealed. He went through some counseling and after that was able to stay out of trouble.
After his rookie season, Melo played with Brazil's National Team in the 2011 World University Games held in China. Brazil finished 5-3 in the event and Melo started seven of the eight games and averaged 8.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. Melo returned to Syracuse 30 pounds lighter and in great shape.
In his sophomore season, he no longer had conditioning problems and he averaged 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game and blocked 88 shots. He routinely made opponents alter their shots and became very good at taking charges. His defensive presence in Syracuse's zone defense helped lead the team to a number 1 ranking in the nation. Melo earned Big East defensive player of the year honors.
His sophomore year wasn't without controversy, however. Poor academics caused Melo to be suspended twice during his sophomore, first for three games and in March for the NCAA tournament. He explained his academic struggles and suspensions as a result of being from another country and not even speaking English until 4 years ago.
He is raw to be sure, but he has a lot of potential and he's a legit seven footer. He has shown that he is willing to work and he learns quickly. He struggled with the NBA defense in Summer League and it may take some time to get used to the Celtics defensive schemes after playing zone for the past 2 years at Syracuse. However, the big question will be whether he's ready for KG.