Welcome to the first (sort of) weekly edition of the Xavier Power Rankings. For the uninitiated, this is a column in which we break down the roster from most replaceable player to least. There is some consideration for cumulative performance, but it’s also influenced by a good deal of recency bias. There are stats involved, but it’s also naturally a bit subjective. Basically, we’re just making it up as we go along. To wit:
10. Dontarius James
James has not piled up the stats this year. That’s not in the sense that he hasn’t had a ton of good stats; he literally doesn’t have many stats at all. Check his line and you’ll find 2 shots, a rebound, an assist, and a turnover. Oh, and a foul. He and I have the same amount of points, though he’s far ahead of me in terms of team gear received.
T8. Elias Harden and Keonte Kennedy
One of these guys has 6/2/1, the other has 5/2/4. Neither has lit the world on fire with his shooting. Each has played exactly 35 minutes. One has committed 4 fouls, the other 6. There’s basically nothing to distinguish them from one another, and their play so far has not inspired me to make the effort to do so.
7. Naji Marshall
The heir apparent to Xavier’s wing spots has gotten off to a bit of a slow start this year. At least some of this can be attributed to a sickness that had him losing a pound every six hours for four straight days before the opener; the rest is just good old fashioned mediocre play. I haven’t seen anything that indicates he’s bad and operating at full speed yet, so look for him to rise as the season goes on.
6. Zach Hankins
Good rebounder, good rim protector, reliable dunker. Turnovers haven’t been a problem, and - while his 6-11 from the line leaves something to be desired - his 7-13 from inside the arc has been exemplary and he has drawn 8 fouls already. Despite all that, he’s ahead of only Dontarius James in minutes per game. Two games into the season, we’re still waiting to see what Hanky McSpanky can do in extended run.
5. Kyle Castlin
Like Malcolm Bernard before him, Castlin has come in as a grad transfer and started making winning plays. Bernard’s contributions to the team dwarfed his actual stat line, and Castlin is moving in that same direction already this year. Both games have been close to the tipping point at times, and the Columbia transfer has been there to stem the tide both times.
4. Ryan Welage
The star of the IUPUI game was missing in action against Evansville. Shooters obviously need to get shots up, and when Welage isn’t doing that, his defense isn’t going to necessitate his presence on the floor. He’s a threat in any game if he gets hot, and that’s an irreplaceable asset for this roster.
3. Quentin Goodin
Hey, maybe don’t hit people in the face with the ball after you’ve been called for a foul. Before he did that, Q was lighting the world on fire and Xavier looked poised to run away with the game against Evansville. We’ll trust that’s a lesson learned.
2. Paul Scruggs
It became almost cliche to talk about a possible Scruggs breakout, so it has been almost a relief to see him making hay in game time. He looked a bit out of sorts with Naj struggling and Q absent against IUPUI, but he showed us a glimpse of a potentially dominant future by gashing Evansville for 24 and an ORtg of 155. Paul flashed everything from deep range on the jumper to bully moves on the post in the team’s second win; Wisconsin will be a chance for him to start something big.
1. Tyrique Jones
Jones has 36 points and 26 boards - half of which have been offensive - in 51 minutes this year. The work that he put in during the offseason is plainly visible in his slimmed-down frame, and he has been a monster in the paint early on. He couldn’t be held on the glass in the second half of the Evansville game. On the season, he has rebounded more than a quarter of the misses on each end of the court, an almost impossible rate to sustain. Dude is a monster, and he still has the meanest of mean mugs.