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Xavier Season in Review: Kerem Kanter report card

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The Muskies went fishing in the transfer market last season and came away with a guy who grew into an integral part of the team.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Nashville Practice
I’ll miss that smile.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Kerem Kanter Votes % of votes
A 117 56.50%
B 82 39.60%
C 4 1.90%
D 1 0.50%
F 3 1.40%
Community GPA: 3.51

Xavier needed one more big man in the offseason, and they found their main in Wally Pipp Brady Ernst. Later that summer, they released Ernst from his commitment and signed Kerem Kanter instead. Kanter had never posted an ORtg better than 105 in the Horizon League for Green Bay, but he was a good rebounder and a big body. He overcame a slow start at X to post 10.9/4.5/0.5 on an ORtg of 124 and change in basically 16 minutes per game to give Xavier a reliable front court scorer to couple with their explosive perimeter players.

Offense: A+

Kanter led the team in true shooting percentage and two-point shooting percentage, both at 64.8%. Like Xavier’s last lefty center - who I think is a full-time Uber driver now - Kanter deployed a dazzling array of moves from each block to get to his left hand. Unlike the Stain Train, he was also comfortable in pick and pop situations at the mid-range and beyond the arc, forcing opposing centers into uncomfortable matchups all over the court. He may not have been Xavier’s most prolific scorer, but he was their most efficient.

Defense: B-

Kanter blocked 10 shots on the year; noted rim protectors Kaiser Gates, Trevon Bluiett, and Paul Scruggs each blocked 9. Kanter had 10 steals, last among Xavier’s rotation players. There is more to defense than getting steals and blocking shots, of course, but I’m struggling to remember either big moments or consistent excellence for Kerem on the defensive end. Two things he did do were avoid fouls and kill possessions with defensive rebounds, both of which are valuable, if not always particularly exciting.

Overall: A-

Aside from not being a real lockdown defender on the post, Kanter gave Xavier everything they could have possibly wanted from him. It’s hard to say a guy with a shots% of 30% should have gotten more touches, but there were games where it felt like anything other than throwing it to Kerem and watching him work was folly. Dude was a complete stud for the back 75% of the season.