You may now add "off the court" to the list of places Fab Melo has disappointed Syracuse in his first 12 months on campus.
Melo, the much-lauded center who failed to make an impact during his freshman season, was arraigned Wednesday morning in Syracuse City Court on a "misdemeanor charge of fourth degree criminal mischief." According to court papers obtained and reported by the Syracuse Post-Standard, the charges stem from an incident Monday afternoon. Melo is accused of "reaching through the open driver's side window of a 2003 Chevrolet Impala, and breaking the turn signal control arm making the turn signal, headlight high beam control and windshield wiper control inoperable." Melo pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning.
The woman involved, a student at SUNY Upstate, was in the car at the time. The judge hearing the arraignment issued an order of protection for the woman, though the alleged victim's relationship to Melo remains unknown.
"Fourth degree criminal mischief" may not sound like much, but an alleged crime is an alleged crime. Worse yet, this is another in a string of unfortunate incidents that has plagued Melo since he arrived in Syracuse last summer. His coach Jim Boeheim had big expectations for the freshman center, and for good reason: Melo was the top-rated center in the class of 2010, a much-hyped big man with quick feet, polished post moves and a monster frame. A year later, Syracuse has only seen flashes of that potential. Melo limped through his freshman year -- battling nagging injuries and fatigue on top of the usual college hoops adjustment process -- and only briefly showed (most notably in a Big East tournament win over St. John's) what so many recruiting experts were so excited about in the first place.
It's hard to figure what these charges mean, if anything, for Melo's career. The case may blow over. It may linger longer than last year's Achilles injury. But one thing is clear: An already-shaky start to a career only worsened Wednesday morning.