Two things get players out of bed on Monday. The lesser of these is seeing where the team has ranked in the AP/Coaches' polls. By far the more major concerned to the informed Musketeer is seeing what spot he has earned in the weekly power rankings.
I don't know if that's true or not, but at the very least we can all agree that the polls are not that predictive of anything meaningful at this time of year. While you're waiting for those to drop, here is our list of everyone currently on scholarship for Xavier, ranking from the player whose production would be the easiest to replace right down the most vital cog in the machine.
12. RaShid Gaston
At some level, I can commiserate with RaShid in his experience as a guy who can practice with the team but not be active on game day. I think his experience has to be more frustrating since it is rules and not talent level keeping him on the bench. Hang in there, big man; better days are coming.
11. Sean O'Mara
Aside from his defensive rebounding, O'Mara's numbers aren't superficially impressive. James Farr spoke about Sean being further along than he was as a sophomore though, and you can see it if you squint. He has had some trouble catching passes this year, but when he slows down and stays within his game, his footwork is very impressive and his touch around the rim is deft. Some big men take time to develop; I see Sean as a very promising late bloomer.
10. Kaiser Gates
Gates's .300/.250/.700 shooting line is fairly grim, but he has done a good enough job of protecting the ball and getting to the free throw line that his ORtg is solid. He has shown good potential on the glass and on defense in his sparing minutes so far. I'm not sure I'd trust him with 15 minutes at Nova, but Kaiser is more than a garbage time hero at this point.
9. Makinde London
On a team with this many offensive weapons, defense is going to play at the bottom of the bench. Coach Mack doesn't need the ninth man to go in and dominate offensively - which Makinde hasn't done anyway - he needs him to help turn defense into chances on the other end. Makinde cleans the boards and has thrown in a propensity for harvesting blocks and steals as a bonus. That's the kind of play that gets you off the bench early when James, Jalen, or both get into their inevitable foul trouble.
8. Larry Austin, Jr.
Ahmad Walker, Stony Brook. Rayshan Simmons, EKU. Those are the only two opponents who have turned the ball over more against WKU than the 3 TO Larry posted against them over the weekend, and those guys combined for 11 assists to Larry's 0. The point is not to embarrass LAJ but to illustrate that WKU just doesn't force turnovers, especially not from guys who aren't spending most of the game with the ball in their hands. I think Saturday represented a step back for Larry. With the Shootout and then conference play approaching, there's not too much time left for him to take some big steps forward.
7. Remy Abell
Last year's team wasn't this deep in scorers, so Remy stood out as a guy who could get buckets without forcing his way in. Now we've got about a half a dozen guys who aren't shy, and it looks increasingly like Remy's contentment to let the game come to him is going to diminish the numbers he can get. There's something to be said for getting in where you fit in, but Remy hasn't been as efficient this year as he was last year.
6. JP Macura
What can't this guy do (other than play man defense)? He's got the second-best assist rate on the team, has the best TO% (by far) of anyone who regularly handles the ball, and is putting up solid shooting numbers. He basically made no effort to score early against WKU, then still ended the game with 9 points just to demonstrate that he can. He's also drawing fouls at an elite rate and hitting his free throws. He and James Farr are hands-down the best bench duo we've seen for Xavier in the Coach Mack era.
5. Jalen Reynolds
There is a world in which Jalen is at the top of this list. He's averaging 20.6/13.9/2.2 with 2.2 steals and 1.7 blocks per 40 minutes played. Those are the numbers of a lottery pick, assuming he can, you know, stay on the floor. Jalen can't. He's averaging just 20 minutes per game because he's averaging 6.5 fouls per 40 minutes. That's a rate that will foul you out in half an hour and put the other team on the line a lot. Until he can get that squared away - and not all the attention he gets from the refs is within his control at this point - he's going to keep having to dominate in spurts.
4. Edmond Sumner
He draws almost 8 fouls per 40 minutes played. He's one of only 7 players in the nation with a free throw rate (basically FTA/FGA, a measure of how good a guy is at getting to the line) of over 100, and none of those other six guys has shot as many free throws as Ed has. His decision making is still a little frustrating at times, but he's growing in that department, and his game as a whole is developing at an alarming rate. There just aren't that many 6'6" guys who can do the things Ed does with the ball.
3. Myles Davis
Thanks to a scalding couple of weeks after that cold start, Myles's shooting line now sits at .406/.371/.917. If his season ended with a shooting line right around there, we'd all be happy with that, right? You'll get your 10 or so points per game, you'll get your ruthless efficiency, you'll get your guy who is nails from the line. Throw in his ability to bring the ball up as needed and the obvious confidence his teammates have in him and you've got the kind of leader that ends up in that circle of Xavier legends where players like Stan Burrell still hang out long after they've graduated.
2. James Farr
Don't look now, but James is putting up the second-best ORtg on the team, trailing only JP Macura. The story of Farr's growth as a player is basically one of someone coming to grips with his own strengths and limitations. As much as I miss the guy who would release 22-foot jumpers while yelling, "Three points, baby!" I love having a semi-reliable low post scorer who is crushing the boards at both ends and doing a little protecting the basket in his free time. What an asset this dude is off the bench.
1. Trevon Bluiett
After his hot start hit a wall last year, I would often use this space to remind people that Trevon was still the team's leading scorer (right up until he wasn't). He's showing no signs of slowing down even a little bit this year, and his body composition and conditioning give plenty of reason to hope that he will still be getting buckets late into the season. In the meantime, he is a scorer with almost infinite confidence in his ability from anywhere on the floor, and he has grown into a monster on the glass as well.