AP Sports Writer
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Syracuse's C.J. Fair is returning for his senior season.
The Orange's leading scorer and rebounder last season announced his decision Wednesday, saying another year of college basketball and graduating were in his best interests.
"I'm excited about working hard with my teammates to put together another great season, and graduating has also been a goal of mine," said Fair, a 6-foot-8 forward from Baltimore. "It definitely was a tough decision because I wanted it to be the right decision."
The return of Fair, who averaged 14.5 points and 6.9 rebounds last season, gives coach Jim Boeheim a nice boost as Syracuse transitions from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference in July.
"With me coming back, it's definitely going to help our chances in the ACC and as far as the NCAA tournament," Fair said. "Our first year in the ACC is something me and the team are looking forward to."
Syracuse has some big holes to fill from last season's squad, which made the Final Four. Seniors Brandon Triche and James Southerland are graduating and sophomore Michael-Carter Williams is entering the NBA draft. They were the second, third and fourth-leading scorers on the team behind Fair.
"This is great news," Boeheim said. "I believe he's just going to keep getting better and better as a basketball player, and earning his degree is important."
Syracuse finished 30-10 after losing to Michigan in the national semifinals, and Fair was a stalwart on the Orange's long run into the postseason. He averaged 15.4 points in five NCAA tournament games and was named to the East Regional all-tournament team.
Fair started every game for Syracuse and scored a team-high 22 points in the loss to the Wolverines. He became the 58th player in school history to surpass 1,000 career points, scored in double figures 32 times as a junior, registering nine double-doubles, and was named to the All-Big East second team.
"Coach (Boeheim) helped me make my decision, what my draft status will be this season as opposed to next season," Fair said. "I think, ultimately, my draft status will be higher next year."
Fair, who added the 3-point shot to his offensive repertoire with some dedicated offseason work prior to the start of last season, was the Orange's most consistent performer in 2012-13. He shot 46.9 percent from beyond the arc, 47 percent overall, and also had 45 steals and 42 blocks.
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