Next year has become this year - and a bit sooner than most of us had hoped at that - so we're going to start peeking into the 2016-2017 season. Don't worry, we're still going to get to the player report cards from the 2015-2016 year (don't forget to vote!), but let's set aside the memorial services for right now and just take a peek at what we might be getting from each player in the upcoming season. Keep in mind that there's a healthy dose of speculation involved in these rankings, so we encourage you to take them with a grain of salt. Feel free to take issue in the comments; healthy argument here or there is good for the brain.
13. Eddie Ekiyor
This isn't a knock on Ekiyor so much as it's just a recognition of certain realities. Right now Xavier is stocked with solid, experienced big men (pending any official news from Jalen Reynolds). Big guys out of high school tend to take longer to develop. Xavier has gone to a more pace-focused lineup, often playing just one true big man. All of these things add up to the idea that Ekiyor may spend a lot more time learning in practice than getting reps on the floor next year. I think he's got a bright future ahead of him with a floor of being a rim protector and rebounder, but he's not going to be getting rotation minutes... maybe.
12. Tyrique Jones
Basically the same as Ekiyor, except Jones can play the four a little more without giving up a ton of athleticism and defense. Where Ekiyor is more of a James Farr-type, Jones has a little more defensive versatility. His offensive game hasn't gotten a lot of raves for its versatility - I'll confess to having not seen a ton of him on film - so he and Eddie are more depth options and future pieces than anything else at this point.
11. Makinde London
At his best, London is a matchup nightmare with serious athleticism and the ability to turn away a ton of shots as a help defender. At his worst, he's a stretch four who looks like he was built out of leftover pipe cleaners and can't stay healthy enough to get consistent minutes. With a couple of years in the system (and the weight room) behind him by the time X next tips off, I'd like to believe that he will have a huge breakout season next year. Until then, he hasn't done much to make himself irreplaceable.
10. Larry Austin, Jr.
I worry about Larry's future with Xavier, to be frank. He only has about a dozen more jump shots in D1 games under his belt than I do, he's just a tad loose with the ball, and he's now definitely behind Ed Sumner and Myles Davis on the point guard depth chart. If that's not bad enough, the Gatorade High School POY in Kentucky plays his position and is coming to Xavier next year. Does Larry wait it out and try to distinguish himself with a great summer, or is the writing on the wall for him? I'm still holding out hope that he's Dee Davis 2.0, but that doesn't seem to be the most likely outcome right now.
9. Quentin Goodin
Speaking of the Gatorade High School POY in Kentucky (but not Mr. Basketball, somehow), Goodin is going to be a freshman combo guard whose potential will excite a lot of people right off the bat. He's strong and athletic and not afraid to finish through contact, and he can hit jumpers when in rhythm. He's got good ball skills and is a solid defender. He's this far down the power rankings because (a) Ed Sumner exists and (b) the back court is crowded in front of him in terms of starter's minutes. Don't be surprised if at this time next year we're talking about him as the heir apparent to Edmond.
8. Sean O'Mara
What is Jalen going to do? I have suspicions, but I don't know for certain. Regardless of that decision though, O'Mara has continued to carve himself out a niche as a reliable post scorer and rebounder. His minutes are going to be predicated on his ability to defend without fouling next year, but he's a nice little insurance policy in terms of a second or third big to bring in to get buckets and boards.
7. RaShid Gaston
We're probably looking at another really deep team next year, which means that someone who deserves to start won't be in the lineup. I think Gaston is that guy right now. He was brought in as Jalen insurance, and he's going to shoot up the board on the power rankings if Reynolds announces he's leaving. Right now he's a like-for-like replacement for James Farr, a tough, physical big man who does all the little things and might occasionally have a game where everything that comes off the rim is his.
6. JP Macura
I had JP higher, then I slid him down for reasons that will become clear when you read Kaiser's paragraph. Somewhere about the time he shrugged off Coach Mack's suggestion of a timeout and instead buried Providence, JP found his feet at Xavier. He went from kind of an up and down, sometimes awesome and usually frustrating player to a guy who was able to harness his flash and energy into something fairly consistently productive. Hopefully we'll see fewer passes off his own hind end and more good decisions, but all I really want from JP is more of what he did in conference play.
5. Kaiser Gates
My gut tells me this guy is going to break out in a big way next year. He showed flashes of absolute brilliance as a freshman, demonstrating that he can defend just about any position and be a reliable passive threat on the offensive end. The tools are all there for him to be an efficient scorer slashing or spotting up, and his defense is only going to get better as he becomes more experienced. Xavier isn't deep with guys who can defend, so Kaiser's ability to do so at all three levels makes him a sneakily valuable member of the team.
4. Myles Davis
Good shooter, good leader, good ball skills. The occasional game still got away from Myles (i.e., Seton Hall), but his development as a reliable influence on the ball was massive for Xavier, especially when Ed went down. The chink in his armor remains his subpar defense; beyond that, he's everything Xavier fans could have hoped he would develop into when he signed.
3. Jalen Reynolds
The are parts in place to shuffle up should Jalen go, but there's no doubt the tenor of the early offseason hinges on what he might decide to do. Should he stay (which would be delightful but probably personally unwise), he basically carries the same latent potential that he had a year ago. Could this be his breakout season? If he takes off to go somewhere he can make money, then suddenly RaShid Gaston and Sean O'Mara become really big pieces in Xavier's machine.
2. Trevon Bluiett
First of all, there are no ties at the top in our power rankings or else there would be one now. Second, Tre still has the nagging potential to disappear from games if he can't get his jumper going. He was better about it as a sophomore than a freshman, and I'm confident he'll be better about it as a junior than a sophomore. Last year he put in a lot of work on his body and it showed defensively and on the glass. Hopefully this summer ends with Trevon sporting a handful of new moves to get him to the rim on days when the J just isn't falling.
1. Edmond Sumner
He exploded onto the scene last year despite being a freshman learning college ball on the fly and not having a super-reliable jump shot and having sustained a pretty scary head injury. Being further removed from that last one will probably help him out this coming year. There's a reason Coach Mack was comfortable calling Sumner's number on Xavier's last possession of the year, whether or not you agree with the decision. I suspect we're going to see a lot more of that in 2016-2017 and that Ed won't give the officials a chance to get the call wrong.