What comes to mind when you think of Jacksonville, Florida? If it isn’t high level college basketball that’s either because you didn’t know there are two Division One programs in the city, or because you rightfully assumed that neither are very good. The one that Xavier will play this year, Jacksonville University, was 12-20 last year and finished 247th in the KenPom rankings. That’s so far down that only two teams from the American finished below them.
The Dolphins 5-11 in conference and were eliminated by Liberty in the first round of their conference tournament. That was head coach Tony Jasick’s fifth year in charge of a program that used to occasionally pop into the top 200 on KenPom. Those days are long since in the past, with JU not having even been respectable on the national level since 2011.
JD Notae didn’t shoot the ball very well last year, going just 42.7% from the floor and 30.3% behind the arc, but that didn’t keep him from using more possessions than anyone else on the team. Notae used nearly 30% of Jacksonville’s possessions when he was on the floor, but took his free shooting and scoring ways to Arkansas after the season. That deprives the Dolphins of their leader in every major statistical category except blocks.
Second leading scorer Jace Hogan also left, albeit simply because he graduated. Jalyn Hinton, the 6-5 guard who led the team in blocks, joined three more Dolphins in the transfer portal. In short, this roster turned over a lot and in doing so lost the cream from the top.
Dave Bell, Sr, 6-9, C (7.3/5.6/0.3 .547/.000/.594)
DeAnthony McCallum, Sr, 6-4, G (7.0/1.5/1.1 .435/.746/.337)
Tyreese Davis, So, 6-6, F (10.1/4.2/2.7 .482/.734/.338)
Davis figures to take over the scoring load that Notae left. Both of the other returning players who saw significant time are useful, but neither seems likely to take a star turn.
Kevion Nolan, Destin Barnes, and Kevin Norman all join the team from various junior colleges. Diante Wood, Mo Arnold, and Trey Sides are the incoming freshman. As is usually the case with low majors restocking the cupboard, none of the newcomers are more than two star recruits. In something of an odd twist, three players on the roster are from Ohio, with redshirt sophomore Donovan Forte and Dave Bell both hailing from Garfield Heights in Cleveland.
There’s no need to make much more of this than it is. This is a team comprised of players living the dream at likely the highest level any of them will ever attain. While there is absolutely no shame in that, they should provide nothing more than fodder for a Xavier team loaded with NBA prospects and hungry to rebound from a disappointing season.