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.
Naji Marshall was Xavier’s fourth or fifth option on the floor last season. Reflective of that, he finished seventh on the team in usage rate. That changed this year when he vaulted to first on the team and used a frankly staggering 7.4% more possessions throughout the season. With the burden of carrying the team with a usage rate (25.7%) that even Trevon Bluiett never approached, Marshall struggled to be as efficient as he had been as a freshman.
Community grade: B
|Naji Marshall||Votes||% of votes|
|Community GPA: 3.29|
There’s perhaps nothing more telling about the way Xavier Nation saw this season than the difference in grade between Quentin Goodin (2.35) and Naji Marshall. Q shot the ball better, was more efficient, and turned the ball over almost exactly as frequently as Marshall, but received a far worse grade. This could be because Marshall led the team in scoring, was second in rebounding, second in assists, and second in steals. If there was a stat out there, there is a good chance Marshall was racking it up.
Banners staff grade: C
Unfortunately, Marshall was using the ball a lot to rack those stats up. The massive caveat to this is that Naji was injured, then ill, then injured again during this season. Despite that, he played 36 minutes per game and shouldered the load on a team that frequently had no one else to do it. That load combined with the injuries to render Marshall inefficient and dull the effectiveness of his shot. Last season, Naji shot 58.7% inside the arc and 34.9% outside it. This year he shot 47.6% inside the arc and 27.7% outside it. Living as the focal point of the offense is not as easy as Trevon Bluiett made it look.
Quentin Goodin will be the biggest beneficiary of Xavier’s talent influx, but Naji will be close behind. With Xavier’s senior point guard able to work in multiple weapons, Marshall’s touches will be of higher quality and without the entire defense leaning his way. Call it a bounce back or a breakout, but Naji Marshall will be a force next season.