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We knew a few things about Jalen Reynolds before he ever played a minute for Xavier last season. First off, we had heard all about his athleticism, which is freakish for someone his size, and the fact it often covered for the rawness of his skills at lower levels. Secondly, we knew he would be rusty, given his nearly two year hiatus due to eligibility complications leading to his having to sit out what would have been his freshman season the year before. And that brings us to our last point, we knew he would not be an average freshman, given the fact he was already 21 years old, he would be much more willing to take and deal punishment than the average 18 year old. The rest came out in the wash of an often unpredictable season for Reynolds.
Prior to his suspension at the end of January last season, X fans could have been forgiven for being underwhelmed by the performance of their touted big man. Reynolds had managed double figure minutes just twice in December and January, and looked lost on the court when he wasn't fouling someone. However, the player who came back from suspension two games later could almost be counted as everything Musketeer fans hoped for from Reynolds. His 17 and 16 against St. John's at MSG is the stuff of legends, given the Johnnies propensity for physical play and shot blocking under the rim, and it served as a launching pad for the rest of Jalen's season. He grabbed a few starts when Stainbrook got injured, he threw Devante Gardener to the ground, and he generally was the most intimidating guy in the gym, just like Xavier fans hoped he would be, ending the season shooting .533/.000/.625 and chipping in 3.8 rebounds per game. While he doesn't offer the face up game of James Farr, there are certainly few 4's in the country who can compete inside with Reynolds.
Best Case Scenario
The Reynolds who tore up Brazil this summer with 13 and 10 per game shows up and does similar damage to the Big East. While there will be a step up in opposition, the argument can be made that Reynolds' game is such that his superior physicality will play similarly against college opponents to how it did against the best Brazil had to offer. He certainly will be the frontrunner to start alongside Stainbrook in the frontcourt and will give teams headaches as they try to guard both of them. Or maybe they just guard the Senior and let Jalen run wild.
Worst Case Scenario
We have already seen it from Reynolds. it is the frustrated foul-fest the took up two whole months of his season last year. He has to keep his wits about him this season, but referees seemed to crack down especially hard on the big men last year, and Reynolds has shown he can be greatly limited by foul trouble.
Most Likely Scenario
Close to best case with some worst case sprinkled in. Reynolds did not show a ton of consistency last year, even when going well, and while we do not have another JRob on our hands here, it is plausible that Reynolds' exuberant nature and aggression will see him limited on occasion. However, he has also proven that when it is going right for him, opponents need beware.