Xavier is experiencing a roster turnover not usually seen outside of Madden sessions with 16 year olds. While Coach Mack hasn't actually traded anyone, his roster for this season barely resembles the one that limped off the court in Dayton last March. Joel laid out the groundwork Monday, and we're going to spend the rest of the week taking a slightly more in depth look at Xavier's incoming talent.
In part one of the series we had a look at the players most likely to impact the team instantly. Not every player is going to do that though. Jason Love and Tu Holloway leap to mind as examples of Xavier players who started slowly before eventually leaving an indelible mark on the program. The players mentioned below will see some time this year, but will peak in the years to come.
- Who will most pleasantly surprise Xavier fans?
Do you know who Xavier's backup point guard was last year? You most likely know that Dee Davis was the starter and that Semaj Christon played the off guard role. Who, though, backed up Dee? The answer: Semaj. All but 5.1% of the minutes played last season featured one of the starters at the one. That, of course, meant that those two led the team in percentage of minutes played. Efficacy on any given day couldn't factor much into the picture when there were only two options available.
Semaj is gone this year and Myles Davis and Remy Abell figure to take his place starting at the two guard. Into the backup gap steps Larry Austin Jr. Austin Jr. was a very late add to the recruiting roster, which can make him feel like a throw in piece in the mold of the hapless Griffin McKenzie. He's not. Kansas State, Memphis, Missouri, and Iowa all made offers to the guard, who had been released from an LOI to Tennessee, but he landed with Coach Chris Mack.
Austin Jr. will pleasantly surprise Xavier fans because he's capable of running the team already. His scoring prowess may currently be below par, but his passing and decision making are not. In Brazil, Austin Jr played to his strengths and led the team in assists while taking the fewest shots of any player who appeared in every game. His team lead in assists also came with only six turnovers in 75 minutes of play. A guard off the bench capable of handling a team, not an offensive or defensive liability, and capable of playing starter level minutes is not a luxury Xavier had last year. Austin Jr. is a big step toward fixing that problem.
- Who is going to be more of a project?
Sean O'Mara, Makinde London, and Edmond Sumner come immediately to mind in this category, but there are reasons to believe two of them will impact the team significantly this year. One of those is that O'Mara is going to get time down low. Xavier returns Jalen Reynolds and Matt Stainbrook on the post. Ultimate team guy Isaiah Philmore does not return, neither does the team's second leading rebounder, Justin Martin. With James Farr insisting on being James Farr, O'Mara will get some time to play. Sumner will also see time because, limited physique aside, he's an electric scorer. Brandon Randolph may lose his minutes to Sumner unless Sumner's propensity for the turnover becomes a major issue.
That leaves Makinde London. Make no mistake, London is very skilled. He's a 6'1" guard who had a nine inch growth spurt and now occupies the height of a 6'10" power forward. Calling London thin, though, is a bit of an understatement. Xavier doesn't currently list a weight for him, but no other service has him at over 195 pounds. That's slender for a guy who may have to drop low on occasion. London can pick and pop and can block shots, but he's not grown all the way into his body yet. There will be flashes from the big man, but he may not quite be ready to have an impact on a consistent basis.