Exclusive: Fab Melo In Town For Mavs Workout

Fab Melo was in Dallas last night, checking into the Hilton, sampling the scene at the Uptown Bar & Grill (today's his 22nd birthday) and readying to work out for the Mavs today, DallasBasketball.com has learned. The Syracuse center was wearing a t-shirt given him by the Pacers, who are so impressed they say he performed ‘off the charts.' More inside scoop on the Mavs and Melo:

Fab Melo of Syracuse was The Big East Defensive Player of the Year, a 7-0, 255-pound sophomore who was a pivotal player on a seemingly dominant team … until academic problems earned him a suspension, causing him to miss the Orangemen's short stay in the NCAA Tournament.

"It was academic," Melo said Tuesday after working out for the Pacers in Indianapolis. "They ask, I explain (what) happened - that I came from another country and until four years ago didn't even speak English."

Melo, 21, is Brazilian and just started playing the game six years ago. We don't believe the Mavs have concerned with the academic issue; their experience with foreign players helps them understand that sort of hurdle.

A far greater issue is something we touched on earlier this week in discussing the visit from Illinois sophomore center Meyers Leonard: Do the Dallas Mavericks want to use their first-round pick at No. 17 on a center who is somewhat of a project?

Leonard has climbed to the middle of the first on mock draft boards. Projections have Melo being in that same range, though the quote from the Indianapolis Star -- "He was off the charts," an Indy source tells the paper – might signify an accelerated climb.

Melo believed he can be an immediate impact player as a defender, and that might be so. But his numbers (7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 blocks) suggest there is a need for growth. But scouting reports do term him a "physical'' player, and that's a good building block for someone so new to the game.

Dallas will find out more about Fab Melo on Wednesday. ... Just as he is finding out more about Dallas, as some of our 105.3 The Fan/75-Member Staffers helped us learn. (He gobbled down buffalo wings, had a birthday drink, and responded favorably to questions about being a Mav.)

And he certainly hopes the Mavs will be as satisfied with his academics-related explanation as previous potential employers have been.

"I think they're comfortable with it," Melo said in Indy, speaking of the NBA hierarchy in general. "And I'm still new to the game."

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