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Three potential hurdles for the loaded ’16-’17 team

The roster for the 2016-2017 iteration of the Musketeers looks incredibly promising on paper. Here are some less paper-related reasons for pause.

By 16-17, Edmond Sumner could be leading the charge.
By 16-17, Edmond Sumner could be leading the charge.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

When we ran the scholarship chart yesterday, the response we got was universally focused on that 2016-2017 squad. It's not difficult to see why: Jalen Reynolds and Myles Davis will be seniors and potentially provide scoring threats in the paint and from the perimeter. JP and Trevon have both shown the ability necessary to get buckets at the D1 level and the fearlessness required to do so in the Big East. Sean O'Mara could well be a Stainbrook-style monster in the middle, and LAJ could be well on his way to fulfilling his Dee Davis 2.0 destiny.

Further down the line, Makinde London and Kaiser Gates are both skilled and athletic forwards who will have a year of experience under their belts by that time. The real gem of that class might well be Edmond Sumner though, a PG who stand 6'6" or so (depending on his haircut), boasts a 40"+ vertical, and posts Vines of himself casually draining threes with either hand. And that's not even considering what Coach Mack might be able to do with four empty scholarship slots between today and the opening jump of that season.

Don't order your Final Four tickets just yet though (it's in Phoenix that year). While the season could be derailed by everyone simultaneously forgetting how to play basketball or the dissolution of society as we know it, here are three more likely hurdles that X may end up having to clear to reach their potential.

Nobody can defend

This is probably the most likely one. I could have put it at the bottom and let the suspense build, but it's getting top billing instead. James Farr isn't stellar on defense outside of the charge circle, but he protects the rim without fouling excessively and kills possessions with defensive boards. We know what Remy Abell does. When those two guys leave, you're looking at a whole lot of LAJ (probably will be a good defender) followed by Jalen (passionate about fouling), JP (God bless him, he tries), Trevon (really good at offense), and Myles (I hate putting negative things about these guys in print, even parenthetically) and then a lot of defensive unknowns.

I'm not sure that Coach Mack will transition into being a mostly zone team, but the personnel may demand it at some point, because it's not clear that the above-listed players will form a unit that is able to hold its own in a full possession of man-to-man defense.

Jalen Reynolds leaves early

We're all anticipating that Jalen continues to develop the basketball production fitting of his freakish physical skills. His points/rebounds as a sophomore were up 260.5%/160.5% from the marks that he posted as a freshman. If he keeps developing at that pace, he'll post 25.8 and 9.8 as a junior, which leaves him almost certain to jump to the NBA instead of returning to Xavier for his senior year. Even if his jumps are more modest, he will have been out of high school for 5 years at the end of the 2015-2016 season and possesses and NBA body. One could understand his desire to move on if he has a good year, but that would leave a meaningful gap in the ranks for Xavier.

Edmond Sumner's knees aren't healthy

This would be a real downer. Sumner took a medical redshirt last year due to knee tendonitis presumably caused at least in part by his rapid vertical growth. Sumner is athletic and undeniably talented; if he's healthy, he has every chance to go down as one of the best guards we've seen come through Xavier. Joints and the tissues that connect them are fickle things though. Xavier doesn't have anyone else on the roster that matches Sumner's combination of size and dynamism from the perimeter; having him healthy and as productive as we think he can be will be a big key for the Musketeers.