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Xavier power rankings: 1/4

Edmond Sumner demonstrated just how valuable he is this week, and Myles Davis also took an opportunity to move up.

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Happy New Year, Muskies fans! The conference season opened with the toughest game of the year for Xavier, and they coupled that with some serious adverse circumstances besides. Having a home game got things back on track against an overranked Butler team, and now we're looking at a group that is well-positioned to stay in contention for the conference crown. The team is more than the sum of its parts right now, but we're going to go ahead and break those parts down and rank them individually.

13. Eddie Ekiyor


I guess I don't have anything to say about Eddie this week.

12. RaShid Gaston
If you haven't seen the All Access: Xavier video from FOX, you should check it out. You can see RaShid's back for several frames; a tantalizing glimpse of what's to come next year. What a fun sneak peek! In the meantime, RaShid and I are getting the same amount of minutes this season.

11. Makinde London
Makinde was "banged up" and "day-to-day" this week, which obviously makes it hard to move up. It's not clear that he was dressed out against Butler since he never took his sweats off, so it's hard to say exactly where he is right now except for not on the court. Get well soon, Makinde!

10. Kaiser Gates
I thought it was awesome to see Kaiser step into a big three against Butler to basically end the game as a contest in the second half. You're seeing the foundation of a very good player starting to take shape. Coach Mack is looking for him to be more reliable on the boards, but Saturday's performance was a look at how well-rounded his game already is.

9. Larry Austin, Jr.
I don't need Larry to shoot anything that isn't a right-handed layup (or dunk, I suppose). I don't need Larry to break down defenses on his own. All I need him to do is make good decisions with the ball and defend like a maniac. We'll set aside for a moment his performance against Villanova; he clearly changed the game on defense against Butler. Unfortunately, he also committed two turnovers (both on offensive fouls due to imperfect decision making). Get the ball between the arcs and give it up, Larry. If he can do that and defend at a high level, he's doing his job.

8. Sean O'Mara
He's a step down from Jalmes Farrnolds, but I like the way this kid plays with his back to the basket. His rebounding numbers are solid at both ends, and he does okay in taking care of the ball. He's a solid third big man and I expect he'll continue to progress as the year rolls on.

7. JP Macura
I don't know why JP isn't hitting more threes, but he's knocking down 60% of the two-pointers he attempts, hitting his free throws, and not turning the ball over. It all adds up to a very valuable offensive player who creates chaos at both ends of the floor. He has definitely put himself on the radar of officials with his general chippiness, which isn't helping him out any going forward.

6. Remy Abell
Something's going well when the guy who just dropped 21 points with an ORtg of 205 doesn't crack the top 5. Remy has started edging back toward being the guy he was last year, and the job he did against Butler on both ends of the floor was very impressive. The most Remy stat of the whole thing was his 14% usage rate. He basically never forced his shot but made every opportunity count. If he keeps doing that, someone from the top 5 is falling.

5. Jalen Reynolds
Jalen somehow managed to avoid fouling almost entirely against Butler, and the result was his best game against a decent opponent since November. This is a completely different team if we can get 28 minutes out of Jalen on a regular basis going forward. It's also interesting to note that he gets basically no protection from the officials on offense. Opponents have noticed, and they're not afraid at all to foul him hard.

4. James Farr
He's not just Xavier's best big man, he's one of the best big men in the country. He's a rim protector, a guy you can throw the ball in to on the post, and a dominant rebounder on both ends. He's also hitting 73% of his free throws, up from the 50% he hit over the last two years. There aren't a lot of guys you'd trade James Farr to get right now.

3. Myles Davis
After a performance against Nova that illustrated how much Myles needs a point guard on the floor with him, he turned around and gave Xavier a pretty comprehensive performance against Butler. He was off the ball enough to get half a dozen catch and shoot threes, of which he drilled half. He was on the ball enough to get 5 assists and a 23% usage rate. This team is better with Myles at the two, but he has shown the acumen to slide over and handle the one while Sumner finds his bearings again.

2. Trevon Bluiett
About this time last year, Tre's numbers started to slide a bit. An honest observer might note the same thing happening over the last three games this season. Is it a hiccup or the start of a pattern? Either way, his defense and rebounding and the fact that he can play the 3 or the 4 are still valuable enough to keep him in this position for now.

1. Edmond Sumner
There's kind of a spectrum of concern when a player goes down. It starts at one end with hoping he can get up and make both free throws and flows through hoping he can take the free throws, hoping he can return to the game, hoping he can return to a near future game, hoping he can return this year, and hoping he can ever play again. The far end of the spectrum is rarely reached, encompassing things like hoping he can walk again and hoping he's not dead. All that to say that I feared the worst when Ed went down against Nova, and I know I wasn't alone. I'm glad X beat Butler, but I'm more glad Edmond sat the game out. I'm glad he's in the concussion protocol even though he wasn't diagnosed with a concussion. I hope he's back soon, but more importantly I hope that he's not back until everyone involved is beyond sure that he's ready. You don't mess around with head injuries.