Fab Melo, who was a center at Syracuse before moving to Brazil to play basketball professionally, died in his native South American country on Saturday.
He was 26.
The Boston Celtics drafted Melo with the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the same year he was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
“He was a really good kid, and it’s not fair that he will be defined by one thing: a 10-page paper,” Boeheim said, referencing Melo’s suspension in the 2011-2012 season due to academics. “He worked his tail off to become a really good player and was a nice kid. It’s so hard right now, so hard to believe. It’s a sad, sad day.”
In 2014, he first signed with a Brazilian team, Club Athletico Paulistano.
This season Melo had played for Uniceub-BRB-Brasilia.
C.J. Fair, who plays basketball overseas in France, took to Twitter to pay respects to his former Syracuse teammate.