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Is Dwon Odom ready to run a DI offense?

Xavier has one true point guard on the team, but he’s a freshman.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Tournament-Xavier vs Creighton Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Kyky Tandy is a very good guard, but he’s not a pure point guard. Paul Scruggs is a very good guard, but he’s not a pure point guard. Quentin Goodin is gone, CJ Wilcher is a shooter, and Colby Jones isn’t a pure point guard. If you are getting the idea that Xavier lacks someone to run the point, you are both right and wrong.

Dwon Odom is a point guard. Further, he’s easily a top 100 player in the nation. Odom ran the point almost exclusively in high school and ran it well, dishing out over six assists to go with his 20.6 points per game. At 6-1, 180, Odom is built more like Quentin Goodin than Edmond Sumner in terms of Xavier’s recent primary ballhandlers. It’s not a slightly built 180 either, as Dwon looks like a linebacker running the ball down the floor. Couple that with an unearthly vertical leap and you have a tremendous athlete who can also get to the rim and pass the ball well.

All of that, coupled with some defensive prowess, makes Odom sound like a shoo-in to be an impact, perhaps a starting, freshman. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a hitch. Dwon’s senior season saw him shoot 65% from the floor and 74% from the line. Those numbers are good but they show Odom’s reliance on getting to the rim. Of the 428 shot attempts of Odom’s senior year, only 56 of those came from behind the arc. Of those 56 he made only 39%. That was an improvement from his junior year when he took only 44 threes and made only 25%. For his high school career Xavier’s newest point guard made only 34% of his three point attempts.

How does all of that translate to playing in the Big East? There’s no question that Odom has the athleticism right now. He’s also a solid on ball defender who had 70 steals in 32 games last season. He can get to the rim and finish there, and he’s reliable if not spectacular at the line. The big question is Dwon’s ability to shoot. As Quentin Goodin just spent four years demonstrating and a long line from Brandon Randolph to LAJ have found out, all the finishing ability in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t keep a defense honest. The Big East will devour players who rely solely on getting to the rim unless they can do it at an NBA level.

Odom is going to get playing time this year. If he shoots even passingly well, say 33%, he has a very good chance of carving out a high rotation spot or even starting. Xavier would love to run Kyky Tandy and Paul Scruggs off the ball and Odom has the skill set to let them do that. The rest of the package is there, if the shots fall Dwon will more than live up to his top 100 rating.