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Can Xavier use the transfer market to fill the point guard position?

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Edmond Sumner is gone, but Al Freeman, Darius Thompson, and Elijah Brown are available should Coach Mack want them

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Championship-Baylor vs Kansas State Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday a reader asked the questions that are now on everyone’s mind: “Which position does Coach Mack have to fill for the upcoming season with Ed leaving and possibly Tre? Which graduate transfers should we target?” Ed’s comment that he would have been back if the doctors could have promised him that he could play in December was somewhat painful, but it doesn’t change the fact that Xavier now has some scholarship room to work with. To fully understand the situation, you have to know exactly what the starting point is. Here, in chart form, is what Xavier is committed to going forward.

2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
Myles Davis (G) J. P. Macura (G) Kaiser Gates (F) Brady Ernst (F) (RS)
RaShid Gaston (F) (RS) Sean O'Mara (C/F) Brady Ernst (F) (RS) Tyrique Jones (F)
Malcolm Bernard (G) (RS) Trevon Bluiett (F) Tyrique Jones (F) Quentin Goodin (G)
Tim Stainbrook (F) Kaiser Gates (F) Quentin Goodin (G) Jared Ridder (F) (LOI)
J. P. Macura (G) Brady Ernst (F) (RS) Jared Ridder (F) (LOI) Elias Harden (G) (LOI)
Sean O'Mara (C/F) Tyrique Jones (F) Elias Harden (G) (LOI) Naji Marshall (G) (LOI)
Trevon Bluiett (F) Quentin Goodin (G) Naji Marshall (G) (LOI) Kentrevious Jones (C) (LOI)
Edmond Sumner (G) (RS) Jared Ridder (F) (LOI) Kentrevious Jones (C) (LOI) Paul Scruggs (G) (LOI)
Kaiser Gates (F) Elias Harden (G) (LOI) Paul Scruggs (G) (LOI)
Tyrique Jones (F) Naji Marshall (G) (LOI)
Quentin Goodin (G) Kentrevious Jones (C) (LOI)
Paul Scruggs (G) (LOI)
5 guards, 2 wings, 4 bigs 5 guards, 3 wings, 3 bigs, 1 open 5 guards, 1 wing, 2 bigs, 4 open 5 guards, 2 bigs, 6 open

Xavier has one open space in the forthcoming season. Currently, the point guard position would be shared between Quentin Goodin and Paul Scruggs. Goodin posted an assist rate of 25.2% against a turnover rate of 26.5% in 24 minutes per game this season. Those numbers aren’t superficially impressive, but for a freshman suddenly thrown into the deep end in the midst of Big East play, they are more than serviceable. It’s not unrealistic to expect Goodin to be a real threat next year. That doesn’t mean that Coach Mack is going to want to play him 36-40 minutes per game.

There are some intriguing names out there to help fill out Xavier’s roster. Al Freeman is the one that most fans are going to catch right away. Freeman isn’t a point guard, but he can handle the ball and he brings immediate and efficient offense to whichever school he lands at after Baylor. Nigel Johnson of Rutgers also is immediately available and runs the point. Johnson didn’t post a very impressive assist rate (16.8%) but his assist rate of 13.4% suggests a steady hand on the ball to go along with some aggressively mediocre shooting.

Virginia transfer Darius Thompson is probably the best pure point guard that could come in immediately. Thompson is 6-4, 195 big body who shot extremely well in his sophomore year before seeing a bit of drop this year with inconsistent playing time. Thompson averaged 6.2/1.6/2.2 with a 21.5% assist rate in 20 minutes per game this year. There are other names out there like Lexus Williams and Stephan Jiggetts, but no one else seems like to make an immediate impact on a top tier Big East team.

The other option Coach Mack has is to bolster his team elsewhere to try and take some pressure off whoever runs the point. Bigs like Nick King, once a highly prized recruit and a guy who had one good year at Memphis, Mark Donnal, a 6-9 rebounder from Michigan, are both available. 6-6 slasher Roschon Prince of LBSU is also available, and his 22% defensive rebounding and 8.1% offensive rebounding rate seem like something like Coach Mack could work with. Elijah Brown is a shooting guard from New Mexico, but he spent significant time with the ball in his hands this year and had a turnover rate of only 17% to go with his 30th highest usage rate in the nation. 18.8/5.2/3.1 would look nice taking a hybrid Malcolm Bernard role.

Finally, Coach Mack could just stand pat. To a large extent, that’s what he did this year, entering the season with two open scholarship spots. The argument could be made that the lack of depth that decision led to was a big part in the February swoon, and that could impact how Mack approaches this year. Whether he chooses to bolster the point guard spot, add depth elsewhere, or just ride with what he has, Coach Mack just spent all of March demonstrating he can get the best out of whatever roster he has.