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Xavier 2018-2019 Player Preview: Zach Hankins

From Ferris State to the big time. Zach Hankins is going to get his shot after truly going through the grind.

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers
Like a Ferris wheel, get it?
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

“How did I get here? How did a guy with no division one offers out of high school, a bad foot, and the experience of playing in Charlevoix in high school end up here?” Zach Hankins must ask himself something like that all of the time. Hankins wasn’t just lightly recruited out of high school, he basically wasn’t recruited at all. He had just one division two scholarship, and that from Ferris State. Now, four years later, Hankins is one of two genuine post men that perennial contender Xavier will field in the Big East.

Stating the start of Hankins story makes for a good narrative, but there is no question he made the most of the opportunity he was given. Last season for Ferris State Hankins was the division two player of the year, won the national championship, and averaged 15.1/9.7/1.5 on 63% shooting from the floor. When his recruitment re-opened with his announcement that he would be seeking a graduate transfer, Michigan St, Michigan, and three other DI programs were competing for his signature. Hankins, though, signed with Travis Steele and Xavier.

Best case scenario:

You don’t recruited by Chris Mack and Tom Izzo if you can’t ball. Mack is gone for Louisville now, but that doesn’t change the concept. Hankins isn’t going to come to Xavier and throw down 15/9/2 with 3.3 blocks like he did for Ferris State, but clearly the big dogs of recruiting think he can get a job done. In Xavier’s fitness test he set a record for big men in the mile, then went inside and ran the quarter at the pace set for the guards. Hankins is fast, fit, and skilled, something he demonstrated in going for 12/8/0 on 4-11 from the floor against Michigan State last year. If he operates off of Tyrique Jones, there’s a genuine chance he can average double digits.

Worst case scenario:

You know who Hankins and Ferris State played after MSU last season? Grand Rapids Community College, then St. Thomas Aquinas, then Indiana. Not Indiana like the Hoosiers, Indiana like the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. (Which seems like a nice school, by the way). You may note that none of those teams are Villanova or, frankly, even Detroit Mercy. It’s incredibly difficult to tell how effective a guy who dropped 31 on Northern Michigan and 24 on Saginaw Valley State is going to do against Villanova and Georgetown. Maybe the reason Hankins wasn’t playing at this level already isn’t because he fell through the cracks, but because he just isn’t good enough.

Most likely scenario:

A lot of high percentage finishes near the rim, solid rebounding, and some games where DI coaches kick themselves for missing this guy for four years. Hankins profile calls to mind “Takeoff” Travis Taylor. He may not reach the frankly monstrous 11.9/9.0/.8 that Taylor did as a senior, but 9/6/1 and some explosive games is definitely within reach.