Xavier is just a game away from Christmas break, but let’s get our most important list wrapped up now. We’ve made this one and checked it just two fewer times than Santa checks his, so it’s probably going to be awesome. As always, remember that the rankings are (ostensibly) based on how hard it would be to replace each player’s contribution and as such are going to be something less than inarguable. Let’s dive right in like The Academy Is...
10. Elias Harden
In December, Harden has played 30 minutes and posted 2/0/1 on 1-4/0-1/0-0 shooting with 3 turnovers. The less said about that, the better.
9. Paul Scruggs
Let’s look at some fairly bad numbers: 86.2 ORtg, 38.2% EFG%, 26.5% TO rate. All poor numbers for a point guard... and all belonging to Quentin Goodin as a freshman. Scruggs’s numbers in those categories this year are similarly bad (87.2, 45.2%, 30.3%), but they’re also a reminder that maybe we don’t punt on the kid because he sucked for his first dozen games in college.
8-6. Sean O’Mara, Kerem Kanter, Tyrique Jones
These guys are morphing into a Jalmes Farrnolds like unit. Seankerique O’Jonter, perhaps. They each get about a third of the minutes and play barely distinguishable games. Big Sean is the best post scorer but the weakest rebounder. Tyrique eats glass on both ends and also has an EFG% over 70%, but he struggles a bit to convert from the line. Kerem is 6-14 from beyond the arc in December and a hooligan on the boards in his own right, but he’s a hair less dominant on the block.
You could hardly go wrong in any ranking order with these guys, but I have them as above. You could tell me you’d completely change it around and you’d probably have a defensible position. At any rate, Xavier has waves of bigs.
5. Naji Marshall
What a stud this guy has been while Xavier’s top dudes have gotten banged up. He has picked his spots with the jumper and been in attack mode on offense. He does a bit of everything and can defend all over the place without fouling. If Xavier gets everyone healthy to the point where Naji comes off the bench in March, he’s a serious luxury.
4. Kaiser Gates
Kaiser is kind of a litmus test among Xavier fans. He’s a 6’8” forward who doesn’t bang, a consistent scorer who doesn’t create his own shot, and a lockdown defender who doesn’t get blocks or steals. Is he an awesome glue guy? A should-be star who isn’t? Something else entirely? I don’t know, but he’s Xavier’s best man defender and is knocking down 43.5% of his three-point shots. I’ll take it.
3. Quentin Goodin
On one hand, you’d like to see him be able to knock down a jumper and cut back on the turnovers just a hair. On the other hand, his ORtg is higher than anything Mark Lyons or Semaj Christon ever posted at X. Maybe we should just appreciate him for what he is - as a sophomore - instead of wishing he were something else.
2. JP Macura
When he’s on, there’s nobody who fills it up all by his onesie quite like JP does, and the fact that opponents hate him and he loves it is just icing on the cake. Get well soon, JP.
1. Trevon Bluiett
Tre’s in a bit of a shooting slump - owing at least a bit to the knock he picked up against ETSU - but he’s the guy when the lights are the brightest. With the game on the line against East Tennessee State, he ignored his coach’s call for a timeout, dribbled across the court (apparently to get more defenders into the play), and then drilled a difficult, highly-contested jumper to win the game. There aren’t many players that have that, but Tre is one of them.