We are basically two-thirds of the way through the season at this point, and we as fans are starting to get a feel for who we have on the roster. It has been said that the best thing about freshman is that they become sophomores, but the best thing about Xavier's freshmen this year is that they have demonstrated a level of talent and ability that makes them viable on the court as newcomers. Here is how they - and 9 of their peers - shake down.
13. Eddie Ekiyor
I have nothing new to report on Eddie, but he is technically a freshman this year. I wonder if he committed with the understanding that minutes would be opening up in the frontcourt next year. With the way things are rolling right now, the idea of Jalen being back isn't as outlandish as it seemed four months ago.
12. RaShid Gaston
Definitely not a freshman. I like the idea of his being the toughest guy on the team that Coach Mack advanced a while back. With James graduating, adding some toughness next year seems like a high priority.
11. Makinde London
Kaiser Gates is filling the role that I kind of thought we'd see Makinde in this year, and that's leaving precious little playing time for him. Some injuries haven't helped, but he has been a touch underwhelming when he has gotten out there.
10. Larry Austin, Jr.
This is not a referendum on how I feel about Larry's potential to be a valuable squad player. Just looking at replaceability though, Ed Sumner is going to take the big point guard minutes and it's clear that Coach Mack likes Myles as a backup option on the ball. Larry's primary value right now is that he gives Mack a way to rest Edmond without making Myles run the point. That's not a great place to be.
9. Sean O'Mara
As long as there are officials, there will be a call for backup big man minutes on this team. Sean scores, rebounds, and gets to the free throw line. He's a solid reserve big.
8. Kaiser Gates
Speaking of solid reserve bigs, Kaiser Gates, everyone. He's shooting 8-13/4-8/6-9 since the Villanova game. What has been most encouraging about Kaiser's recent performance has been the level of defensive prowess and potential he has demonstrated. He can defend big men or wings or anchor the middle of the zone; the sky appears to be the limit for him right now.
7. Remy Abell
Remy has been acceptable as a scoring option and consistently defends without fouling. Given the depth of this team, he has been a little bit prone to disappearing in games from time to time, but he has by and large filled the role that he is asked to.
6. JP Macura
We'd all like to see him shooting the three a bit better, but JP leads the team in ORtg right now. He scores at an elite level inside the arc and rarely wastes possessions with turnovers. He also leads the Big East in being the first guy to touch the ball falling through the basket after a teammate scores; he's always flying to the offensive glass.
5. Jalen Reynolds
I about dropped him to sixth, but his rebounding numbers are just too monstrous. I wish he would stop fouling so much and find some sort of offensive rhythm, but he's all over the glass and does work both in blocking shots and forcing turnovers.
4. James Farr
This feels low for him, but I don't see any way around it. I guess it's a testament to Xavier's depth that there are four guys who legitimately have a case for team MVP. James is producing at a really high level, but if he went down, we could still piece something together from the remaining big men on the roster.
3. Trevon Bluiett
This guy has drawn some defensive assignments this year that he could not have handled as a freshman. He's hitting almost 40% of his threes. His DReb% has risen from 11.8% last year to 17.9% this year. One of Xavier's big strengths is the ability to run a lot of different looks out there, and Tre's versatility is a big part of that.
2. Edmond Sumner
Thank goodness he's back. You'd have taken 15/3/5 from him against Marquette in any circumstances. To have him deliver that after missing two weeks and clearly being shy of game shape out there allows the collective psyche of Xavier fans a little relief.
1. Myles Davis
If I were a freshman playing D1 college ball, Myles is the kind of upperclassman I'd want on the team. He's articulate and measured in press conferences. He does the nitty gritty work the team needs on the floor, from drawing charges to moving bigger men on the glass. Then when the game is slipping a bit in a hostile away venue, he calls for the ball and delivers back-to-back dagger threes. This guy is the heart and soul of this team right now.