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2016 Xavier basketball player preview: Edmond Sumner

NCAA Basketball: Cincinnati at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Edmond Sumner entered last season as that rarest of things, a freshman who had already played college ball. Thanks to an injury redshirt after 43 minutes of playing time, Sumner made his freshman debut a season after making his freshman debut. That semantical confusion aside, Sumner also entered the season surrounded by questions. Would his knees hold up? Could he facilitate play? Could he take time away from a possibly more reliable, if less explosive, LAJ?

By the time conference play rolled around, Ed had answered all of those with an emphatic yes. Despite his attempted assassination at Villanova, Sumner had the kind of (second) freshman season that dreams are made of. He ended UC with a titanic dunk, put up 21/9/2 and a snake dribbling fall-away three pointer against Wake, and had games with five or more assists before the calendar year even turned. The bodycheck in Philly slowed him, but only briefly. He went for 22 on 9-9 from the line against Georgetown, 20 on 7-12 from the floor against Marquette, and 21 in trying to drag his team back against a surging Seton Hall.

Xavier’s final offensive possession of the season had the ball in Sumner’s hands, and through the hoop, before a dreadful call ended it. That was a measure of the confidence the team had in the young guard. For the year, Ed averaged 11/3.4/3.6 on 39.7% from the floor. After that start, where else can he go?

Best-case scenario:

The best point guard in the nation. Ed is already on the short list for the Cousy Award. What must surely be a scary thought for the rest of the Big East is an Edmond Sumner who has added some offseason muscle and can take a bit more of a beating. Throw in a jumper that wold at least make teams respect him from deep, and you have a talent that is quite literally unmatched in college basketball. Where Tu Holloway got on the Cousy list through guile, nerve, and iron will, Ed has done it through sheer force of ability.

Worst-case scenario:

There are two. The first is that Sumner spent the summer eating ice cream, scrolling through Instagram looking for “fitness models”, and occasionally watching Crosstown Shootout highlights. When I saw him this didn’t look like it had been the case, but anything less than a whole hearted devotion to the game could lead to just marginal improvement. Even that leaves Xavier with an elite level guard.

The second is that Ed plays so well that this is his Xavier swan song. I don’t want to think about that just yet, but it’s far from unlikely. Players this good don’t generally linger at the college level.

Most likely scenario:

Guys who play for Coach Mack either work hard or sit on the bench. With Ed already having demonstrated that he will work himself back from injury, there’s no reason to think he won’t keep going. Most likely, Sumner runs the show and provides highlights on his way to being one of the top 10 point men in the nation.