|Derrick Brown, with his head at the rim
Brown came onto the scene at Xavier as a super-efficient dunk machine of a freshman. That season he averaged almost two points per shot attempt, due in large part to the fact that most of his shots were attempted from within the cylinder. As he matured, Brown added an effective (if not especially pretty) jump shot to go with his sensational athletic ability. He averaged almost 14 points per game as a junior and connected on 39 of 90 threes. With highly touted Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford eligible to play the next season, Brown appeared set to help lead Xavier deep into the tourney as a senior. Then he left.
Brown's departure left a massive vacuum in the offense, as losing the player generally anticipated to be your number one scoring threat will often do. The Muskie ship righted itself though, and when it did, it was Jordan Crawford at the helm. Turns out there was a reason people were so eager to tout him. Crawford gleefully gobbled up the possessions Brown had left behind, pouring in buckets from all distances and angles en route to blowing Gus Johnson's mind. Riding a cresting wave of national exposure, Craw jumped to the NBA after just one season with X. Derrick Brown averaged three points and nine minutes per game that year for Charlotte.
Crawford's departure left a massive vacuum in the offense, as losing the player generally anticipated to be your number one scoring threat will often do. This time it was Tu Holloway who stepped up to become the leader of the offense. While Tu's arrival from Indiana (thanks, Kelvin Sampson!) wasn't quite headline news like Crawford's, his impact on the program has been no less noteworthy. Holloway's leadership and ability to beat the defense and get to the line allowed him to average 20-5-5 and lead Xavier back to the NCAA tournament. While that last part didn't quite go to plan, the national media finally caught onto the fact that Holloway happens to be a terrific guard.
That little history lesson brings us all the way back to the present day. Because Brown left early, Crawford had the necessary possessions available to him that allowed him to put up the numbers that led to his early departure. Now Tu has stood in the gap left by Craw, harvested his extra possessions, and is looking at the choice of jumping now or coming back and trying to put up numbers that will improve his draft stock. None of this would have happened if Brown had just stayed put for one more year. Until someone (hopefully Tu) breaks the cycle of early departures, I'll be over here, blaming Derrick Brown.