The best and most important power rankings in the world are back again! Contrary to what Dickie Simpkins might lead you to believe, Xavier has more than eight scholarship guys playing ball this year. Here's how that group breaks down, from easiest to most difficult to replace. All opinions are my own. Very few animals were harmed in the making of this post.
9. Tyrique Jones
I think the rough edges in Tyrique's game are fairly evident, but so is the incredible amount of promise. He rebounds at a really high rate and instills sincere fear in opponents coming to the rim. Guys who are smart as well as scared can usually get him with a head fake, but that's something that he'll learn to compete with in time. In the meantime, he's a game-changing weapon on the glass and in the lane coming off of the bench... until he fouls out.
8. Quentin Goodin
Tu Holloway played every minute of every game as the point guard. Dee Davis did the same thing, despite elements in the Xavier fan base getting excited about the list of guys brought in to replace him throughout his career. Quentin Goodin is already getting just shy of 20 minutes a game and holding his own at the point. He's the first reserve PG we've seen in a while that Xavier fans can watch crouched in front of the scorer's table without a little bit of creeping dread.
7. Sean O'Mara
Pros: you basically can't guard him on the post. His assist rate is down this year, but I think that's just because he's doing nothing but turning and laying the ball in 75% of the time he gets a touch. Cons: he trails five regulars plus Kaiser Gates in DReb%. This team can replace scoring to an extent; Sean falls in line at #7 right now.
6. Kaiser Gates
He's back (kind of)! Coach Mack has been easing Kaiser back up to speed, which is clearly the wise decision. In limited time, he is shooting well and rebounding adequately, which is basically what you'd expect right now. Nothing we've seen out of Kaiser gives us any reason to think he's not going to be more or less what we expected coming into the year. If he can rebound well enough that Coach Mack can pair he and Trevon with three guards, that's a lineup that will cause a lot of teams a lot of problems.
5. RaShid Gaston
The beneficiary of my "this team can replace scoring" thesis. Gaston has looked disappointingly guardable on the post so far this year, but he's in the top 150 in the nation in DReb% and block% and the top 11 in OReb%. Even if he doesn't start scoring, a guy who can kill possessions on the glass and recycle play with offensive boards is hugely valuable to this team.
4. Edmond Sumner
Ed kind of got off to a sputtery start this year, but I think he's hitting his stride. Ignore his shooting for a moment and focus on the 7 assist, 0 turnover performance against NDSU. His ability to set up his teammates on offense would be awesome from a guy averaging 4 points per game, and he's averaging 14. He also rebounds like a wing, blocks shots, harvests steals, and gets to the line... where he's shooting just 65.8%. When he irons that out and maybe hits a few threes, he'll be unstoppable.
3. Malcolm Bernard
As @MuskieMusings pointed out on Twitter (you're following him, right?), Malcolm Bernard is leading the team in 3P%. For a guy who was brought in to be Remy Abell without the shot, he's looking a lot like Remy Abell. He rebounds better than Remy (sorry, bud) and has been defending well enough that Coach Mack has flashed little of the 1-3-1 zone that Xavier increasingly relied upon last year. Mal's TO% is still a touch high, but he's looking like a guy who can be trusted to play tough D for 30 minutes a game and knock down shots if left open. He was a darn fine pick up for Xavier.
2. Trevon Bluiett
The team leader in scoring and rebounding isn't on top of our power rankings. Why? Well, he's getting it done on volume right now. Tre's shots% is 29.6%, nearly six points higher than anyone else on the team. He raised his EFG% three points last night, but it's still sitting at 46.6% compared to a national average of 50%. He's getting to the line, not turning it over, and putting in his shift on defense. He'll keep shooting more like he did last night for the rest of the season, and his numbers will be there come March.
1. JP Macura
Meanwhile, JP's numbers are already there. The Fantastic Mr. Myles Fox Morrissey leads the team in minutes and steal% and is second in ORtg, assist rate, and TO rate. He also draws a ton of fouls and has hit 29 of his 30 free throw attempts. Basically, if there's something a person can do on the basketball court, JP has a tool in his belt to at least take a shot at it.