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Naji Marshall is getting better

The gross numbers aren’t changing a lot, but the way Xavier’s star is getting them is.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Much has been made recently of the resurgence of Quentin Goodin. Q has bounced back from a terrible start to get himself to the point where Xavier’s point guard needs to be for this team to be competitive. As Goodin has gotten better, so has another Xavier player who was already in a good place.

Naji Marshall burst on to the scene as a freshman who could score, shoot, and rebound on a team that was loaded. In that first year Naj shot 34.9% behind the arc and averaged 7.7 points. A breakout seemed in store for him as a sophomore. Last season Marshall averaged 14.7/7.2/3.4, but only shot 39% from the floor and 27% behind the arc. He carried the offensive load for the team a lot of the time, but never got his hot where it needed to be for him to carry the threat he seems capable of. If ever a season was both a step forward and back, last season was for Naji.

This year’s numbers don’t look drastically different. 16.2/5.9/3.3 on .446/.279/.698 shooting. Those are coming on almost the exact same amount of shots as he took inside and outside the arc last season. The change has come almost solely in how well Marshall is shooting the ball, and that change is most evident in the games since Quentin Goodin started playing better.

In that time, now the time that Xavier is starting to get the offense going, Naji has been excellent. There’s no question that a large part of that has come from having more space to operate. In that span, Naji is shooting .495/.351/.615 and is making 59.3% of his two point shots. At the rim Naji is finishing at a 71.7% rate, the same as Jalen Reynolds in his final season for the Musketeers. The turnaround in the last seven games has been dramatic. With Naji and Q both clicking, Xavier’s offense is an entirely different proposition.