News came out last night that Xavier is going to be hosting a visit from Florida A&M transfer Malcolm Bernard this weekend. Bernard is a grad transfer guard/wing who will be eligible immediately. He left FAMU and originally committed to (or at least reported that he had) Richmond, but somewhere along the line things got a little weird there and now he's back on the market. For what it's worth, he'll also be visiting Temple this week.
Let's start with the good news on Bernard: he put up 14.4/7.1/4.3 to lead the Rattlers in each category last year on a shooting line of .421/.211/.660. He also averaged 2.3 steals per game on a steal percentage of 3.6%. The vast bulk of his rebounding came at the defensive end. His assist rate was just outside of the top 50 in the nation, and his TO% of 22.1% is pretty acceptable for a guy being asked to do pretty much everything for his team. He also drew fouls at a pretty solid clip and was a good finisher around the rim.
The bad news? He can't shoot. His three-point percentage of 21.1% came on 11-52 from beyond the arc against all competition (FAMU played some games against non-D1 opponents, so numbers you can find for them vary according to whether or not those games are included). He hit just 30% of his two-point jumpers, a number worse than notoriously gun shy LAJ put up last year. This all combined to drag down his EFG% to 43%, well below the national average of 49.9%. Bernard's game depends on getting to the rim, but that's going to be a lot harder to do against Villanova than it was against Bethune Cookman.
On the subject of competition, Bernard played just three games against teams that finished the year in the KenPom top 200 last year. He went for 24 points on 7-27/1-7/9-15 shooting and added 7 assists to 11 turnovers.
On the face of it, Malcolm Bernard looks to be a depth option at Xavier's deepest position who is going to have some serious offensive shortcomings to deal with if he wants to be a contributor. The one spot where he stands above Xavier's current back court crop is defense. The fact that Xavier is hosting a visit from him is either perplexing or a sign that Coach Mack and the staff are looking to shore up a potentially very leaky perimeter defense.