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How will Jason Carter adjust from being lead dog?

Jason Carter was the big fish last year, but he’s in the ocean now.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio at Buffalo
Jason Carter was there to get buckets for Ohio.
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Rather than a full on preview for each player on the roster this year we will be attempting to focus on one question that will determine how the player might fit on the team. The questions aren’t designed to carry either a positive or negative connotation, just really suss out how the roster is built. We’ll start with the freshman and build on to the players everyone knows.

Last season Jason Carter was a monster. A line of 16.5/6.7/2.0 came on 48% shooting and a respectable 34% mark behind the arc. Not turning the ball over and shooting 72% from the line played into a 109.4 offensive rating with a usage rate over 25%. (Teyvion Kirk was 24th in the nation with a 32% usage rate for Ohio last year. His offensive efficiency was 78.3. That’s terrible coaching). Usage aside, Carter was consistently effective, only failing to score double figures in five of the 30 games he played.

That all took place in the MAC, where Ohio went 6-12 and lost in the first round of the tournament. When Carter next pulled on a jersey, it was for practice in the Cintas Center. Xavier had a down year last season and reached the Big East semifinals and the 65th ranking in the KenPom. The Musketeers beat Villanova, Butler, Creighton (twice), and took eventual Final Four team Auburn to OT. Ohio played all three directional Michigan schools and lost to Loyola Marymount.

Carter will now take a game that played very well in the MAC and attempt to translate it to the Big East. Carter is good both inside, getting 60% of his shots at the rim, and stepping out to knock down jumpers, which he shot respectable both in and outside the arc. The Johnstown, Ohio native isn’t a great rebounder, but his defensive rebounding rate of 16.3% would have been second on the Musketeers last season. A 13.7% assist rate and 12.1% turnover rate speak to a player who cares for the ball.

Carter now steps into a challenge. Xavier’s top four players in usage rate (the Core Four) all return this season. The gap left by the departure of Zach Hankins will try to be filled by guards like Kyky Tandy and Dahmir Bishop, who are used to having the ball. The fifth spot is wide open for the taking, but the competition is fierce this year. The fifth spot is also not what Carter is used to occupying. (And there’s no saying, by the way, that he can’t leapfrog a Core Four player). Jason never finished lower than third in usage in Ohio, and that came as a freshman. Last year, he was clearly the Bobcats best player and should have gotten the ball even more than he did. This season, he’s not the best player on the team.

What he is is a key cog in a team that is ranked in the top 25 and hungry for an NCAA tournament berth and run. Carter may never have had to play second fiddle before, but now he has a chance to play a lesser role on a much greater team. If he can adjust to a new role, the future for the Ohio transfer is very bright.