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. We know and you know the caveats that Covid brings, so this will be the only mention of it.
“Colby is like a swiss-army knife. I don’t know what position he is because he can play 1-3. He’s a guy that is a tremendous defender, can really rebound for a guard, can score and make plays. He’s skilled and he’s a terrific decision-maker with the ball with an ability to make guys better. He is strong and has good size and length.” Those are the words that Xavier’s head coach Travis Steele used to describe his new guard, and they carry a lot of weight.
Colby Jones is a 6-5, 195 guard. That’s great size, and it’s part of the reason that he can play more than one position. It’s also likely why most of the big basketball schools in the deep south were after Jones. Thanks to Ben Johnson, Jones landed at Xavier. Jones averaged 25.2/7.8/3.2 with 2.5 steals per game as a senior and shot 48.8% behind the arc.
Doing a bit of everything in high school for a player as talented as Jones likely wasn’t terribly difficult, all things considered. Doing the same in college will be a different story. Xavier’s most recent jack of all trades, Naji Marshall, averaged 16.8/6.3/4.0 in his final season, but didn’t shoot the ball well at all. James Posey averaged 16.9/8.9/2.3 with 2.8 steals, but he was also a senior. Jones will be stepping into that role as a freshman, meaning he’ll be adjusting to a whole new level while also trying to figure out how to apply his skills.
So where will Jones do that? Xavier doesn’t have a pure point guard returning to the roster. Kyky Tandy is probably the closest thing to it, but Steele preferred to use him off the ball last season. Paul Scruggs can run the point as well, but he’s also far better as a shooting guard. Dwan Odom is a point guard, but is also a freshman. It seems likely Jones will find minutes at the one. Jones shot plays well as an off guard, but that position is crowded for X. Tandy and Scruggs are joined by shooter Nate Johnson who has already demonstrated he can make the college three pointer and do it in bunches.
At the three Xavier has some potential room for a 6-5 floor spacer who can rebound and defend. Ben Stanley is still waiting on the NCAA to fulfill its mission of helping student-athletes by letting him know if he can play or not. It’s hard to blame them for not having an answer, they’ve only had seven months. Jason Carter can play the three some but seemed more comfortable near the rim last season. The rest of Xavier’s post players are bangers unlikely to play as a swing forward unless Steele goes with a huge lineup. Johnson could drop to the three if Steele can get enough rebounding from his four and five. Either way, there is time available at a forward spot for Jones.
What will ultimately get Colby Jones on the floor as Xavier’s newest do it all guy is how well he can defend. If he proves he can stay with a quick guard or a scoring forward, he’ll play. That he can also shoot and get on the glass only makes him more valuable. That said, Jones has yet to fill out his frame. He could find himself doing a lot of watching if the grind and size of the Big East wear him down. Versatility never hurts, and Xavier may have landed their next guy who can paper over the lineup cracks.