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Xavier Season in Review: Paul Scruggs report card

The freshman his teammates call Scrizzle exploded in the second half of the year.

Big East Basketball Tournament - Semifinals Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Thanks to everyone who participated in our Banners on the Parkway postseason player report cards. We’ll be breaking down each player’s grades for the rest of this week and on into next week and maybe the following, just depending on how time allows. We’ll also be assigning and explaining our own grades of each player. We’ll start with the player who got the lowest community ranking and work our way up to the MVP.

Paul Scruggs Votes % of votes
A 17 8.20%
B 126 60.90%
C 58 28%
D 3 1.40%
F 3 1.40%
Community GPA: 3.00

What do you want from a freshman? Some flashes on both ends? Some moments where he seems capable of taking over a game? General competence with some hope for the future? Consistent improvement? Just not being a black hole on both ends? Xavier fans were treated to the thought of two dynamic freshman coming in last year. One was a budding star from almost the off, the other, Paul Scruggs, warmed to it as the season progressed until he was a vital rotation player.

Offense: C

That’s a high grade for a guy with an offensive efficiency of 96. After all, 96 is below average and was the worst on the team, Elias Harden excepted. That 96 doesn’t tell the story of Scruggs season, though. For the first 16 games of the season, he was abject, shooting .407/.111/.667 and turning the ball over twice in 15 minutes per game. In those 16 games he posted a line of 3.6/1.9/1.8. Especially compared to the scorching start of Naji Marshall, that’s bad.

Against Villanova Scruggs started to come out of it, then he completely flipped the switch. In the final 18 games he played almost 18 minutes per contest but cut his turnovers almost in half. In that span Paul’s line was 6.1/2.1/1.7 on an astoundingly improved shooting line of .487/.429/.759. Are those superstar numbers? Not yet. Are they the numbers of someone blooming into a star? Possibly, especially when paired with...

Defense: A

To borrow a line that has been applied to the relentlessly overhyped and underperforming Gary Clark, Scruggs is a problem on defense. At a listed 6-3, 207 and with some serious wheels, Paul can guard pretty much anyone that can’t batter him in the post. This season, that ability stood out on a team that frequently had JP Macura and Trevon Bluiett trying to guard someone man up. That’s not a duty that Scruggs struggles with, and it bought him playing time this year even as his offense took some time to get going. Next year, with a starting spot likely in the cards, Scruggs will have even more time to be a menace.

Overall: B

What do you want from a freshman? How about spending the last 18 games looking like a star in the making? What about going for 15/2/1 in a Big East quarterfinal at the Garden? Whatever you look for, as long as you are reasonable, Paul Scruggs likely gave it to you in a standout freshman year. This kid is legit.