There's nothing quite like beating UC, which is adding a fairly solid dose of good will to the power rankings this week. I about put everyone as tied for first, but that's not in the spirit of what we're doing here. As a refresher for those who didn't read the very first one of these last year at this time - or has allowed the cares of life to push it out of your mind in the intervening year or so - the idea here is that we're stacking the scholarship Muskies from most to least replaceable. Here's how they break down (if only in my mind):
12. RaShid Gaston
Xavier's redshirting big man continues to grab those redshirt minutes. Hopefully he's getting ready to help Myles go for that Shootout sweep next year.
11. Kaiser Gates
Kaiser is kind of a shooter who isn't shooting very well at the moment. He has been incredibly active on defense and on the glass though, and it's not hard to look at him and see an important rotation piece lurking in there somewhere. That he's redundant depth on a team that was giving good minutes to Landen Amos not that long ago speaks well of the trajectory of the program.
10. Makinde London
Makinde dribbled back into the corner against Wright State to make a three, which was cool. He blocked three shots against them, which is also cool. Significantly less cool were his four turnovers and his season TO rate of 34.6%. As with Kaiser Gates, you don't have to be a professional scout to see the potential in Makinde. Until such time as it arrives, Xavier will be fortunate to have him able to come off the bench and make a ruckus on both ends.
9. Larry Austin, Jr
Larry continues to play like a guy who thinks he needs to prove he can score before the coaching staff will give him more minutes. What he really needs to prove is that he can defend hard and get the ball to the playmakers so Myles doesn't have to bring it up while Edmond Sumner takes breaks. Come on, Larry; you can do this.
8. Sean O'Mara
As long as Jalen Reynolds has a reputation among officiating crews, Sean O'Mara is going to be relied upon for some solid minutes off the pine. I loved what he did in the Shootout, correctly assessing the game as a physical one before basically bullying his man to within layup range and then, you know, layingup. As officiating inevitably loosens in conference play, Sean will be able to bring his skills to bear more.
7. JP Macura
JP couldn't be any more unpopular with opponents and their fans than he is right now if he legally changed his name to Tell Your Sister to Stop Calling Me. A quick search of Twitter/Reddit/UC message boards during the Shootout revealed that most Bearcats fans would love nothing more than to see someone punch JP in his face. He isn't shooting quite as well as you'd like from three, but he's a surprisingly elite two-point shooter and he makes really, really good decisions with the basketball. Add in his work at the top of the zone and he's a great weapon off the bench.
6. Remy Abell
I'll be honest, this feels like selling Remy short until I try to figure out who I would drop to move him up. He was at his best against UC, waiting around for wide-open threes and then burying them. If he keeps doing that, I'm going to have to figure something out.
5. Edmond Sumner
Did you see what he did to Octavius Ellis? I know you have, but that will never get old for me. He turns the ball over too much, but he has already adjusted his dribbling habits to keep the ball moving better. He has some growth in shot selection left to do as well, but there are about zero other point guards in school history who could have done what he did to UC's center. You can't put a price tag on that kind of explosive potential.
4. Jalen Reynolds
It's the same old story for Jalen. Xavier looks amazing with him on the floor, but he is getting less than half of the 40 minutes at this point. It's not entirely his fault - he seems like he's really being targeted by the officials - but it's not entirely not his fault, either. If he can stay away from the situations that draw calls on him, he's a whirlwind in the middle of the 1-3-1 and a great scoring option from the post.
3. James Farr
Coach Farr made the call to let Jalen stay on the floor after he drew his and-one against UC. Aside from his man management acumen, James just continues to dominate the boards, protect the rim, and own UC. He passed up on a wide open look from deep with 30 seconds left in the Shootout, which tells a lot about how he has changed his game and his mindset since he arrived on campus. If he had taken and jarred that though, the roof would have come off of Cintas.
2. Trevon Bluiett
Brace yourselves for some ugly truths, my fellow Americans. Trevon's offensive no-show against UC brought to mind that he didn't make a field goal against them last year. I also didn't recall his being a barrel of fire against Arizona, so I went and looked it up. Last year Tre's ORtg was 109.9 overall, 106.7 against top 100 teams, and 87.2 against top 50 teams. This year his ORtg is 116.4 overall, 96.8 against top 100 teams, and 94.2 against top 50 teams. In other words, he goes from being an elite offensive player to a below-average one when the opponents get tougher. I don't know if this is a trend that will continue, but it is something to keep an eye on. In the meantime, Trevon's dropping from the top spot this week has less to do with my losing faith in him - I haven't - and more to do with how much love I'm currently carrying for...
1. Myles Davis
I know "gangsta" is out, but are we allowed to call a guy a killer? All Myles does is drop daggers in big games, sporting a 136.7 ORtg against top 50 teams. He has hit 2 or more threes in Xavier's last seven games and is 16-33 from deep in that span, including the current 12-22 tear he's on. He can be trusted to get the ball between the arcs to set up the offense. He'll never be confused for Stan Burrell, but his defense is improving and he has a knack for drawing offensive fouls. More importantly than any of that is how firmly he has established himself as the team's leader. Other guys can shoot and bring the ball up and draw fouls; nobody else runs the team on the floor like he does.