Evan Daniels didn't have RaShid Gaston or Malcolm Bernard on his list of the top transfers in the nation. When I retweeted that to let all you nice people know (you do follow us on Twitter, right?), Daniels was kind enough to take notice and respond with a little bit of clarification:
@BannersParkway Gaston was close. Think he will fill the role that Jaylen Reynolds did last year— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) October 19, 2016
Well that's interesting. In a different world, Jalen wants a grad degree and James Farr didn't burn a year of eligibility to play 42 minutes and we still have them both. In this world, Xavier has neither, but Daniels intimates here that Gaston could well step in and fill a large part of the hole left by Jalmes Farrnolds heading to get paid to play. First of all, the absolute basics:
|Reynolds (2015-2016, Xavier)||19.6||9.6||6.5||0.7||.523||.333||.654|
|Gaston (2014-2015, Norfolk St)||31.1||15.5||9.6||1.4||.626||.000||.543|
As you can see, Gaston outperformed Reynolds in basically every category except for 3P% (Gaston was 0-0) and FT% (Gaston was dreadful). So far, so good, right? Right. As you've no doubt observed, that's a fairly superficial look at the numbers. Gaston had great stats, but he was on the court more, surrounded by less talent, and going up against less talent. The number one thing I draw from this is that 31.1 minutes per game is an impressive amount of burn for a big man to handle. Let's check out some other stuff:
|Reynolds (2015-2016, Xavier)||105.3||24.1||24.2||52.7||11.4||23.9||3.8||1.9||6.2||5.5||44|
|Gaston (2014-2015, Norfolk St)||115.1||25.3||25.4||63.1||13.9||23.2||4.5||0.5||3.7||5.3||52.5|
There's some more nuance! First things first: Gaston was a more efficient offensive performer because he shot better. That's almost insultingly obvious, but I'm point it out anyway. The ability to score the basketball is a big part of being good at offense.
Aside from that, there are a lot of similarities. Both guys had usage rates of around 25%. Both guys beasted on the glass. Both guys drew about 5.5 fouls per 40 minutes of play, though Gaston got to the line a little bit more for his trouble. Both guys blocked a lot of shots, but Jalen did much better in grabbing steals. I thought maybe that was a factor of playing the 1-3-1, but his steal rate was consistently high throughout his career, even when Xavier played almost exclusively man. Dude just liked steals, I guess.
Oh, one other thing: fouls. Jalen racked them up like he was getting ready to set the market. Despite playing almost 12 fewer minutes per game, he managed to get called for more fouls per game than Gaston did. Some of that was because of his aggressive, physical style of play, but there's little doubt that officials really liked calling fouls on Jalen.
That's all well and good, but it doesn't really account for the difference in level of play between Xavier's competition and Norfolk State's. To try to bring that into play, I've taken KenPom's numbers in games they played in tiers A and B as Pomeroy defines them. This is basically games against top 100 opponents after being weighted for location. You can go to Pomeroy's page and look up the exact explanation, or you can just trust me. Anyway, here are those numbers:
|Reynolds (2015-2016, Xavier)||21||105.6||23||23.3||53.4||11.8||23.4||3.9||1.6||6.4||5.1||40|
|Gaston (2014-2015, Norfolk St)||6||113.7||22.3||23.9||62.1||10||24||7.5||0.4||4.4||4.3||39.7|
I've added a column for games played to underscore the massive caveat, namely that Gaston sample size in less than a third of Jalen's. In fact, Jalen played more tier A/B games last year than Gaston has in his entire career. That doesn't nullify any conclusions you could draw, but it's an important piece of information to have.
Even with that in mind though, those are pretty encouraging numbers. He continued to score efficiently while more than holding his own on the glass. Fouls were up, but so were blocked shots. Maybe that's something to keep an eye on, maybe it's a quirk of the sample size.
It's also worth noting that these numbers are not the same as those of the guy currently on Xavier. Those numbers were posted by RaShid Gaston, Norfolk State junior. He has spent the last year and a half growing physically, honing his body and his game, and going up against the meanest two-headed monster college basketball had to offer last year. I would imagine he'll be more capable in November of 2016 than he was in March of 2015.
Last season, Xavier got 20.3 and 14.3 in 40.2 MPG out of Jalmes Farrnolds. This year they'll lean on SeanShid O'Gaston (RaSean Gasmara?) to fill that same role. We've seen O'Mara be capable of scoring in bunches on the post, and the numbers above hint at Gaston's ability to step in for Jalen. Xavier doesn't need these two guys to replace 100% of the departing post value, but I'm increasingly confident that they can combine for 80-90% of it, which I think will stand Xavier in good stead this year.