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.
Replacing the monstrous production of Tyrique Jones is going to be no easy task for Xavier. He was the most reliable offensive player on the team and maybe the best rebounder in the entire nation. You don't just swap in the next guy when someone like that moves on.
Not right away, at any rate. Hanging in the no-man's-land between the tantalizing freshman seasons of Kyky Tandy and Zach Freemantle and the untested potential of CJ Wilcher, Dwon Odom, and Colby Jones is Dieonte Miles.
Miles, if you don't know, is a local guy out of Walton-Verona who comes with sky-high potential as a big man. A shoulder injury his junior year of high school cooled his recruiting, but he dropped a monster 14.7/6.7/3.0 line as a senior while throwing in 4 blocks per game - including 12 in his final high school game - for good measure.
Miles came into the season last year as an obvious redshirt candidate, but he performed well enough in Spain to at least make it a question. He showed excellent open-floor athleticism for a big man and held his own in situations where lateral mobility and bounce were key. He was less effective in banging for position in the paint, and that's ultimately a big part of why he ended up taking a year off to develop.
It appears to have paid off. After being listed at 208 on last year's official roster, Miles is now sitting at 220 and is visibly bulked up in pictures and videos of practices this year. The transition to college ball isn't a picnic, but a year under his belt banging with Tyrique every day in practice will have taken some of the edge off of the transition for Miles.
So what can we expect of him? Because of his physical talents, he has a very high floor. He'll definitely be able to protect the rim at one end in help situations, and he's going to beat a lot of guys down the floor as a rim runner on the other. Coach Steele touts his feel for the game and high level of skill from the post out to the arc, but it might not behoove Xavier fans to expect a young Dirk at this point.
Where I do - maybe a little hopefully - see some parallels is with recent Creighton big man Justin Patton. Patton was also lightly recruited - when he committed to Creighton, no other D1 team had even offered - though he did blow up enough to be a four-star guy. He took a redshirt for developmental reasons, then promptly dropped game averages of 13 and 6 in his freshman (and only) year in college ball. It might be a little heavy to expect Miles to hit the ground running on a dead sprint to the draft lottery, but a reasonable person should be looking for him to be in the mix to be the first big man off the bench, a difference maker especially on the defensive end, and a guy who can take over short stretches of the game when he has his eye in.