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Projecting the future: Kaiser Gates

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Xavier’s stretch four has all the tools for a breakout. Is this the year he takes that step?

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Xavier v Florida State
Kaiser Gates has no cousins.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

As previously discussed, we’re going to be taking a look at what the KenPom numbers say about the potential of the current players on the Xavier roster. For more detail on what exactly this will entail, click through here. Once you get caught up there, let's jump right in.

Let’s talk about Kaiser Gates. Sometimes he looks like he’s about to be the next big thing, like he did when he hit 4-5 threes on his way to 14/5/2 against Florida State in March. Sometimes he looks like the exact opposite of that, like he did a week before the FSU game in dropping 0/0/0 against Butler. It all came out to a perfectly reasonable 5.8/4.0/0.7 line, albeit on a somewhat grotesque .387/.339/.722 shooting line. Do guys like Kaiser historically break out? Let’s see.

The guy who broke out: Rion Brown (931)

SEASON MIN PTS REB AST FG% 3P% FT%
Freshman 16.9 4.4 2.0 0.6 36.2% 35.6% 69.7%
Sophomore 19.9 7.2 2.8 0.5 42.7% 39.4% 76.6%
Junior 22.2 6.4 2.0 0.8 36.7% 29.2% 74.5%
Senior 35.3 15.5 5.8 2.3 43.2% 31.7% 75.6%

Brown was more of a big-body wing than the stretch four that Kaiser plays, but KenPom’s similarity scores say they’re similar, so we’re going with it. I’d obviously take the results. After three years of being a steady contributor, Brown got a lot more minutes and a lot more touches as a senior and blossomed because of it. Like Kaiser, he always seemed to be a shooting slump away from disappearing, but he was deadly when he was on.

The guy who never broke out: Clint Steindl (924)

SEASON MIN PTS REB AST FG% 3P% FT%
Freshman 9.0 2.7 1.0 0.2 33.3% 33.3% 80.0%
Sophomore 23.8 6.9 2.6 1.1 41.5% 37.7% 81.3%
Junior 23.0 6.6 2.7 1.0 42.7% 42.3% 61.5%
Senior 23.5 7.9 2.9 0.9 40.8% 42.0% 93.8%

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: big guy who looks like he could be effective in the paint would rather stand outside and splash threes. Steindl was always a very efficient offensive player; he also generally took between three and four threes for every two he attempted. I’d like to see Kaiser get into the middle a bit more, but I wouldn’t turn down 42% shooting from deep.

The guy who broke apart: Lew Evans (933)

SEASON MIN PTS REB AST FG% 3P% FT%
Freshman 20.6 5.3 4.1 0.6 34.4% 25.9% 58.1%
Sophomore 21.4 8.4 5.6 0.9 41.2% 35.6% 71.3%
Junior 14.8 3.4 2.8 0.9 34.5% 29.5% 68.5%

Evans played his freshman year at Tulsa, his sophomore year at Utah State, and his junior year - last season - at Tennessee. He has never posted an ORtg of 100, never rebounded well, and been fairly turnover prone. Basically, the things that frustrate you when Kaiser is going badly? That’s this guy’s norm.

**

I very much want to see Kaiser take a big step forward this year. If his shot selection gets a little better, boosting his shooting line to something in the .410/.350/.750 range seems well within his abilities, and a few more made shots would spruce up his game line nicely.