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Season in Review: Dontarius James community ranking and offseason outlook

Xavier’s freshman big man played sparingly last season; is there more in the cards for him going forward?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Xavier vs Florida State Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Some technical difficulties slowed our poll results, but we’re back with the player-by-player autopsy of the season and a look at where each guy needs to develop to fit into next year’s plan.

Dontarius James came into the season as one half of Xavier’s two-man recruiting class. Fresh off of a coaching change, X held onto him and Keonte Kennedy to help fill out the roster. Neither of them came in with a lot of buzz, but there was some hope that at least one of them would be able to be more than just roster depth. A season later, here’s where the Banners community ranked him:

Banners community grade: F

Dontarius James Votes % of votes
A 1 0.4%
B 6 2.5%
C 45 18.7%
D 87 36.1%
F 102 42.3%
Community GPA: 3.66 0.83

That more or less speaks for itself. We’re not going to dwell on the numbers too much here as there’s just not a lot to parse out. We have nearly a dozen readers here, and none of them were too impressed with what Dontarius brought to the floor.

Banners staff grade: Incomplete

Dontarius played just 41 minutes this season. While that level of playing time is a commentary of its own, it also doesn’t give the average observer much opportunity to see him in action. Quentin Goodin played more against Auburn than Dontarius did all season. James’s season line - 3/4/1 on 1-8/1-5/0-0 shooting - reads like a single, nondescript game’s effort.

All of this isn’t to bag on the kid, it’s just to say that, in the same way you wouldn’t see any single game as a referendum on a player’s season, you should be cautious drawing too many conclusions regarding who Dontarius James is at this point. I’m confident that, given the option, most of our poll voters would have given him an incomplete.

Offseason outlook

I think it’s probably pointlessly reductivist to say that James just needs to get a lot better. There’s a niche for him in this roster if he can develop his skill set in specific ways.

I don’t need to remind most of you that James Farr played only 42 minutes his freshman year and didn’t look like a world-beater in so doing. By the time his career was over, we were all glad that he hadn’t put his name into the transfer portal after his first year.

Like Farr, James came into Xavier billed as a big man whose game took him away from the bucket. Dontarius is legitimately 2-3” shorter than Farr, but the rapid evolution of the game towards pace and space doesn’t remove the former Xavier center as a useful analogue.

Dontarius probably won’t grow up to be James Farr, but it’s too early to call him Jordan Latham. With Tyrique Jones and Jason Carter on the roster as veteran bigs and Zach Freemantle and Dionte Miles coming in, James has his work cut out for him. What he has going for him is his jumper and his build. If he can establish himself as a bruiser who can force teams to respect him enough to open lanes for Xavier’s slashing perimeter players, he’s got a role to play on the 2019-2020 squad. At this point, his summer is going to be spent building towards being the second big man off the bench for a solid 10-15 minutes per game.