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Can Larry Austin Jr. make the jump?

Larry Austin Jr is the ostensible heir to Dee Davis' point guard throne. Do his freshman year numbers compare well to some of Xavier's recent outstanding guards?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Much was made yesterday of Larry Austin's actual, physical jumping ability. A 40 inch vertical coming from a guard who is listed (incorrectly) at 6-2 is rather impressive. That, coupled with the speed over 94 feet that LAJ brings, add up to an impressive set of physical abilities. Playing the point is, however, about a lot more than just physical ability. Larry will now be stepping into the shoes of Dee Davis, at least to begin with. Is he developing the same way that Xavier guards have in the past?

Minutes Points Assists Turnovers A Rate TO Rate FG% FT% 3P%
Player A 24 5.5 2.2 1.9 19.1 29.5 0.350 0.782 0.327
Player B 22 7.8 2.1 1.7 17.2 21 0.398 0.680 0.344
Player C 11.1 1.9 0.8 0.8 13.1 29.3 0.342 0.500 0.293
LAJ 4.3 0.7 0.2 0.4 9.4 44.7 0.500 0.750 0.000
Player D 8.8 1.6 1.1 0.8 23.6 35.7 0.333 0.600 0.346

Those are the freshman years of recent Xavier guards. I was going to list Larry as one of the unknowns there, but the paucity of minutes he played made it pretty easy to pick him out of an anonymous list. There are two comps on this list that are closer than the others. One is player B, who looks a lot like Larry just with a few more minutes and not as many turnovers. One is player D, who played a few more minutes and also threw the ball away at roughly a commensurate rate considering the sample size.

The turnover rate is one thing that stands out. No other Xavier point guard had such a hard time holding onto the ball in his freshman year as Austin Jr. There's a bit of a caveat in there, though, because LAJ had three turnovers in his first game, and only eight for the rest of the year. Of course, you can't just act like those turnovers didn't happen, because they did. LAJ did shoot better than anyone else on the list, but that is again tempered by the sample size, which is extremely small.

So what does this tell us? For one, all but player A stepped into a situation where they were a backup guard. Player A went on to be Tu Holloway, so he may be a developmental outlier. His turnover rate was still astronomical for a primary ballhandler, but that 08-09 team had no other true point guard. Player B, Mark Lyons, was an off guard and, even as a freshman, obsessed with shooting the ball. His rates are actually a little more even than the point guards on this list for that reason.

That leaves the two closest comparisons. Both stepped in as backup point guards, and both immediately forced more playing time than Larry got. Player C, the inimitable Dee Davis, also played for Coach Mack behind a dominant starter but still got nearly three times as many minutes per game as LAJ did. He also appeared in ten more games than Austin Jr. did. It's telling that the same coach clearly saw a bit more in Dee than he has thus far in Larry. Dee also had the benefit of getting a lot of minutes after that little incident with UC. That may skew both his numbers and the impression a little bit.

Player D is the cautionary tale here. His numbers are the closest to Larry's in terms of both time played and struggle not to end possessions with turnovers. Even player D, the failure of this bunch, had a considerably higher assist rate than the current Musketeer. They both tossed up about as many shots in which they featured significantly, and both played on teams loaded with senior leadership and a strong point guard. Unfortunately, player D didn't develop at all, ended up transferring out, and became one of those names that Xavier fans use to measure the credentials of others that they meet. Player D is the ill-fated Churchill Odia.

It's not possible to look at 111 minutes and tell where a player is going for his career. LAJ showed flashes of great play, including 31 minutes without a turnover in a two week stretch of conference play. That alone makes it easy to see why there is still some excitement about the young man. On the other hand, he isn't developing anything like some of the great guards in recent Xavier history, instead skewing more towards a guy who never lived up to his potential. With Edmond Sumner waiting in the wings, LAJ has to seize his opportunity as quickly as he can, or he may also fade into oblivion.