High School Sports

Miami Heat a possible destination for former Sagemont star center Fab Melo

Former Weston Sagemont star center Fab Melo will hold a draft watch party Thursday night. That will be the only certainty as the 7-footer awaits his call to join an NBA team.

Just where the Big East Defensive Player of the Year at Syracuse will end up remains a mystery. However, a return to South Florida with the Miami Heat – which reportedly has worked him out at least twice – is one of the possibilities.

“I have heard Melo going from No. 15 to No. 28 or 29,” said Sagemont coach Adam Ross, who will attend Melo’s party. “My own gut tells me he will end up in the late teens or early 20’s . He has worked out for every team that has a pick in that range.

“I know the Heat are excited and enamored with getting Fab at No. 27. If he lasts that far, there is a very high likelihood Miami will go in that direction. They seem to really like him.”

A late bloomer who started playing competitive basketball in the ninth grade, Melo is expected to make an immediate impact on the league defensively.

The 255-pound Melo turned himself into a top prospect by averaging 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and shooting 56.6 percent as a sophomore for Syracuse last season. With Melo serving as the defensive anchor in Jim Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3 matchup zone, the Orangemen held the No. 1 ranking for six weeks.

“Fab did a fantastic job, he put in the time, energy and effort in the last offseason,” Ross said. “He dropped 35 pounds, cut his body fat from 14 to 8 percent. He became much more agile and more mobile and that really paid off. I think his shot-blocking will translate. Offensively, I think most NBA teams think he is a work in progress, but they will be surprised by his ability to shoot the 12- to 15-foot jumper.”

Opinion on Melo’s NBA ceiling is varied. SB Nation has Melo going to the Boston Celtics with the No. 22 pick and ranked him the No. 5 center available behind UConn’s Andre Drummond, Illinois’ Meyers Leonard, Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli and North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller.

As for other recent mock drafts, the Sporting News projects the Cleveland Cavaliers taking Melo with the No. 24 pick, while NBAdraft.net believes Memphis will take him at No. 25.

No matter when Melo’s name is called, it will be a proud moment for a Sagemont basketball program that drew national attention four years ago when an imposing but raw recruit from Brazil walked through its gym doors.

“For us it doesn’t get any better,’’ Ross said. “As a high school coach it is almost unthinkable that you’re going to have a kid that has an opportunity to be a first-round pick. It’s a big thing for Sagemont, its administration, players, students and teachers. We’re very proud of Melo and looking forward to watching him play at the next level.”