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Xavier Power Rankings value guys who can hold onto the ball

The most important rankings in the nation are back, at least until we throw them directly to an EKU site.

NCAA Basketball: Eastern Kentucky at Xavier
Nate Johnson celebrates not turning the ball over. Making a clutch three was just coincidental.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve done this for a while now, but in case you forgot what the Xavier power rankings are all about, here’s a quick rundown. We take every scholarship guy on the roster and then rank him by how replaceable he is, from most to least. The guy you can pull any rando off the bench to replicate will be at the bottom, and the dude who simply can’t even be imitated from the available parts will be at the top. It’s partly analytical and partly subjective, partly cumulative and partly based on recent results. It’s all from my mind and there’s plenty of room for disagreement. Let’s dive in.

We'll see CJ Wilcher, Colby Jones, Danny Ramsey, and maybe even Adam Kunkel on here at some point. Since they haven't played yet this year, though, it's these eight guys we're going to ride or die with (for now).

8. Dieonte Miles

The tallest dude on the roster, Miles has been an effective rim protector in limited time this year, and he has managed to avoid serious foul issues. The problem is he's not rebounding very well, landing much closer to Dwon Odom and Nate Johnson in total rebounding rate than any of the big men. He's been an efficient scorer, but so have all the other bigs. He just doesn't quite fill enough holes for Coach Steele to give him run in tight games, and Xavier hasn't played anything but of late.

7. Bryan Griffin

I really like Griffin so far. He has added the kind of bullying presence in the paint that Xavier had last year with Tyrique Jones. He has been a monstrous rebounder and an efficient scorer from the post. The problem is that he hasn't been able to hold onto the ball, posting a 31.7% TO rate, by far the worst on the team. He's also stuck behind Carter and Freemantle for minutes, and both of those guys have been performing well.

6. Dwon Odom

Among qualifiers on the team, Dwon is first in block rate. Maybe not what you need from a point, but still impressive. If you go by him on the bounce, you better have him well and truly beaten or he's throwing your shot. Offensively, he has distributed well, but ball security has been a problem for him even before the EKU fiasco. He's also shooting just 3-11 on jumpers and 2-4 from the line; teams are going to start giving him space until he burns them.

5. Nate Johnson

Johnson has a real case for #4, but he ultimately lands here due to his limitations. He's not an option to be the primary ball handler, and he's not a high-usage guy. What he is is maybe the most Remy Abell clone of Remy we've ever had. He's a good defender and a reliable and - as he demonstrated in rescuing the EKU game with back-to-back three in overtime - bloodless shooter. If we come to the point where this team needs him to be more than that, other parts have failed.

4. Paul Scruggs

Among Muskies with 20+ FGA, only Zach Freemantle is bettering Paul's 65.2% from inside the arc. He also leads the team with an assist rate of 34.1% and has been reliable defensively. Foul trouble has been an issue though, as he has committed 9 fouls over 60 minutes in the last two games. He's also shooting just 3-20 from deep and 9-15 from the line. You'd expect all those numbers to resolve as his talent shows through, but they haven't so far.

3. Jason Carter

People who spent all of last season begging their fellow fans to look past the box score to see Jason Carter's true value now have some more tangible returns to point to. He's getting 8 PPG on a miniscule 14.6% usage rate thanks to great efficiency numbers, and he has been the team's best rebounder. He's shown solid defensive versatility both in numbers (third on the team in block rate, second in steal rate) and in the eye test, guarding 3-5 with equal aplomb and seemingly missing fewer rotations than many of his teammates. His lines don't usually light the world on fire, but he's clearly a valuable glue guy.

2. Kyky Tandy

If you like fun, this is your guy. He has range and isn't afraid to explore its limits off the catch or the bounce. He's attacking the rim consistently this year and comfortably leading the team in FT rate. He's also cashing in with an impressive 18-22 from the line. He's still prone to the occasional rush of blood to the head in the form of a heat check bomb or taking 17 dribbles before pulling up for a very long two, but by and large the young man has earned the confidence with which he plays.

1. Zach Freemantle

The biggest and the frostiest. He rebounds. He scores almost at will (70% shooter from inside the arc) and from anywhere (5-12 from deep). He blocks shots. He... has somehow only shot 4 free throws? That seems odd. If he had the same free throw rate as last year, he would have been to the line 14 times already this season. Maybe it's an issue, maybe the refs just haven't been in mid-season form yet. Something to keep an eye on. Anyway, he's an efficient, high-usage, high-minutes horse. Saddle up.