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Xavier 2015-2016 Player Preview: Larry Austin Jr.

LAJ took what few minutes there were as Dee Davis's backup last year, but what does his sophomore season hold?

FIRST DOWN!
FIRST DOWN!
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Larry Austin Jr. was a later addition to last season's recruiting class, largely touted as Xavier's best ever, and can often be relegated to being an afterthought when considering the talent Musketeer fans think about going forward. In his very limited appearances last season, he showed a raw skillset and high energy that most found a mix of intriguing and downright exciting, when his passes did not end up with the opponent. Austin did acquit himself as a solid on and off ball defender, a streaky high tempo ball handler, and a point guard who looks to bring others into play rather than find his own shot.

What Austin did not do, which is fairly paramount to being a successful guard, is take care of the ball. His turnover rate was 44.7, which is probably not helped by his sample size, and likely contributed to his minimal exposure to the floor for most of the season. He did post 11 turnover free minutes at Creighton in X's final regular season game, by far his best showing of the season as he picked up significant minutes and scored 4 points in what was a must-win game for Xavier's NCAA Tournament hopes. Most of what we know about his summer work comes in the form of information that he can jump really, really high, which he ostensibly found out while working on basketball things, or possibly knew already.

Best Case Scenario

At the risk of causing irreparable damage to Joel's marriage- Dee Davis 2.0. Austin is a couple of inches taller than Dee, which is important in a physical league like the Big East. He also spent most of his time looking to set others up, rather than look for his on shot. We don't know if Austin possesses the same ability to stretch defenses with his three point shooting, most because he didn't attempt one last year, but his larger size and ability to stay in front of his man on defense would both play better than Dee's shortcomings in those areas. LAJ probably isn't ever going to be a 15 point per game scorer at X, but with the weapons around him, all he needs to be is the straw that stirs the drink, much like Davis was last year.

Worst Case Scenario

Larry gets lost in the shuffle of a mega talented Xavier backcourt. With Abell, Davis, Macura, Bluiett, and Sumner all vying for minutes on the perimeter, Austin could easily find himself on towel duty if he can't convince Coach Mack that he is capable of running the show. He and Randolph's shakiness with turnovers saw both Myles Davis and Abell bringing the ball at times last season, and contributed to Dee leading the team in minutes. Austin has to show he brings his own value to the table in his ability to distribute or risk becoming an afterthought.

Most Likely Scenario

With the departure of Davis, the point guard spot is theoretically up for grabs and LAJ is theoretically right in the mix. If those are indeed true, then the first few games of the season, Larry shoul get his chance to prove he can at the very least be a change of pace at the point. Honestly, with the noises coming out about Sumner's readiness over the summer, Austin will probably end up in an expanded role from last season, but still not the primary ball handler. In games where Sumner struggles, Austin will likely be the guy.