The MVP debate rages in most sports between old and new ideas. In baseball the old and increasingly out of touch look to stats like batting average, HR, and RBI, along with how well a player’s team did, to determine if he was an MVP. Newer, and frequently better, stats tell the story of what a player actually contributed. In the NBA this year Russell Westbrook won the MVP on the back of his (frankly amazing) feat of of averaging a triple-double. He wasn’t actually the most valuable player though, as new era stats LeBron James and a handful of others actually made their teams better than Westbrook made his.
When it comes to college basketball, and specifically Xavier, MVP isn’t so much what we are looking for as trying to find out who the key cog will be for X this year. Trevon is going to be the MVP. He’s going to score the most points, make the most big shots, and take over the most games. Will he be the most important player on the team, though? If someone else goes down, will Bluiett’s brilliance go by the wayside? Excluding Trevon, here are the other guys that could argue they hold the keys to the Musketeers season.
Last year was supposed to be a year to feel out college basketball for the talented Kentuckian and, right up until the St. John’s game, it was. After Edmond Sumner went down with one of those injuries that everyone watching instantly knew was bad, Q had to take over the helm of the ship. He was inconsistent, turnover prone, calm, and occasionally brilliant. In short, he was an apprentice point guard thrust into the starting role. That role is now all his own. If he falls short, or gets injured, the Musketeers are once again looking at a freshman bringing the ball down the court in the biggest games.
But what a freshman he is. Scruggs is probably at his best off the ball, but if Q struggles, he’ll handle the ball. Scruggs is also on this team to lessen some of the scoring burden on Trevon. Bluiett and Macura are still going to do the bulk of the scoring, but Xavier fans saw too often last year what happened when JP was left to handle the load on his own. With Scruggs, Xavier has a second explosive scorer who can get buckets when the team needs them, without him, Xavier doesn’t look significantly different than they did last year unless the other freshman take a big jump.
Kerem Kanter, Tyrique Jones, and Sean O’Mara are Xavier’s depth down low. One of them needs to take the starting role and run with it. O’Mara was amazing in March, but too anonymous earlier in the year. Jones is a monster at times and can be as savage as any Xavier post on any recent team, but his scoring moves lack polish. Kerem Kanter comes with a nice resume, but he’s never faced Big East competition day in and day out. With one big man running the show, X’s bevy of guards will have the space they need. Without a big, too many games like last year’s second effort against Seton Hall, where JP and Tre struggled on unsupported, will become the norm.