This was an up-and-down week for Xavier, but let's not drift away from the fact that the Muskies have won 6 of 7 and 22 of 25 on the season. A loss after two lackluster wins seemed to portend bad things, but Xavier bounced back in a big way by suffocating Butler's offense right out of the game on Saturday. Enough about the team though; let's talk individuals.
13. Eddie Ekiyor
I can't imagine it's much fun to redshirt half a year while your team is pushing for a protected seed and maybe a deep tournament run, but that's what Eddie is doing right now. Hopefully this is fueling his desire to lead the team to the mountaintop one day.
12. RaShid Gaston
If Eddie is the long-term future of the post for Xavier, RaShid is the near future. The toughest guy on the team in practice (at least according to his coach), he'll have one year to make that play at Cintas. Let's hope it's a good one.
11. Makinde London
It's not clear what Makinde's future is. He has loads of evident talent, but he's also piling up the DNPs. He has been nicked up, but that's not necessarily a positive predictor, either. I still have high hopes for Makinde.
10. Kaiser Gates
It's a testament to Xavier's depth that Kaiser lands here. He's a versatile and talented scorer and a tenacious defender. His game is still a bit rough around the edges (make those FT!), but his ability to guard just about any player on the floor has him earning good minutes right now.
9. Sean O'Mara
This guy scores about a point for every two minutes he's on the floor, which is obviously an impressive weapon to have coming off the bench. He also gets called for 7 fouls every 40 minutes, perhaps thinking he is a literal weapon off the bench. When he manages to rein in the hurricane of murder that the officials apparently think he is, he'll be unstoppable on the low post.
8. Larry Austin, Jr.
He's still good for one inexplicable turnover per outing, and he's about nothing as a shooter, but his assist rate is solid and his ORtg in conference play is better than Kris Dunn's. He appears to be comfortable with who he is and his role on the team, and his defense and point guardery are an asset off the bench.
7. Remy Abell
Clearly playing man defense brings Remy to life, and he basically owns Butler. Remy gets lost in the sauce a little bit in the zone, but I think it's going to be important to keep him involved down the stretch, because Xavier is going to need the man defense that he provides if they want to be ready for March.
6. Jalen Reynolds
Jalen ranks third in the conference in DReb% and fouls drawn per 40 minutes. Unfortunately, he also gets called for 5.5 fouls per 40 minutes and operates in one of Xavier's deepest positions, so he falls to 6th. His performance at Butler was brief because of the officials, but it was promising in that he was dominant when he was allowed to play.
5. James Farr
James is really close to fourth, but I'm not going to start putting ties in the power rankings. James has been a kind of an average offensive player in conference play, but he dominates anything that happens within about eight feet of the rim, ranking second in the Big East is OReb% and DReb% and 9th in block%. The dude is a monster.
4. JP Macura
The real tiebreaker between JP and James was that hammer dunk to punctuate Xavier's demolition of Butler over the weekend. JP has been the team's most efficient offensive player during conference play, and he's 9-14 from behind the arc in February. Throw in his persistent work on the offensive glass and the top of the 1-3-1 and you've got maybe the best bench player in the league.
3. Edmond Sumner
The team is just different with Ed on the floor. His steal rate is third in the conference, but it's his offensive prowess that makes the difference. His ability to put defenders on skates and get defenses into rotation leads to open shots for Xavier, whether or not Ed ends up getting the assist.
2. Myles Davis
Xavier's bald leader is tops on the team and ninth in the conference with an assist rate of 26.1%. Not bad for a knockdown shooter not known for his distribution. Myles just does whatever the team needs, whether it's deputizing at starting point, jarring big threes, or circling the troops like Dante Jackson used to do. He has a claim to the top spot, but it's not as strong as that of...
1. Trevon Bluiett
Tre plays more minutes than anyone on the team, and it's easy to see why. He has grown into a solid defender, and the ball seems to find him as much as it does anyone when the offense needs to get moving. His shots are almost evenly split between two-point and three-point attempts, and his twos are almost evenly split between shots at the rim and jumpers. For a guy who is only shooting 25% of his shots at the rim, he's a doggone efficient offensive player. Throw in his work on the glass and his versatility and you've got Xavier's most irreplaceable player.