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Player review: Dontarius James never found a spot at Xavier

Xavier’s frontcourt was a shuffle all season, but Dontarius rarely got his number to come up.

NCAA Basketball: Green Bay at Xavier
King James.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Xavier basketball was rolling to a nerve-wracking end to the season, then a global pandemic hit the brakes so hard I went right into the windshield. We’ve shaken ourselves off a bit here and will continue, somewhat belatedly, with our breakdown of one of the weirdest Xavier seasons on record.

Before last season tipped off, Dontarius James was tabbed as an obvious candidate for a transfer. He didn’t have a lot of playing time under his belt, and it was clear that Xavier had recruited over him. It’s not uncommon for a coach’s first class to be a complete washout, and Travis Steele was clearly viewing his as such.

James stuck around for his sophomore year. Credit to the young man for sticking around to battle for his spot, and now - as he has transferred out and committed to Jacksonville - credit to him for knowing when he’s been squeezed out.

It’s hard to make a charitable write-up of James’s season. With Danny Ramsey not able to get healthy and Dieonte Miles taking a developmental redshirt, there were gaps in Xavier’s frountcourt alongside Tyrique Jones, but Zach Freemantle and Jason Carter filled most of them, and a small lineup accounted for almost all of the rest.

Part of the tale of James’s season is in what he didn’t do. He never made more than one basket in a game. He only blocked one shot. He only played more than half the game once. He didn’t get enough time to shoot or play himself into any sort of rhythm.

He did, however, get his moment. In a January 5th game against St. John’s (NY) at Cintas, James was a dominant force in the paint. He dropped 6/8/2 in a game that was touch and go for long sequences for the Muskies. He was rightly feted by the home crowd for staying at Xavier, fighting for his playing time, and having what appeared to be a breakout game.

He got 6 minutes the next time out against Seton Hall. By the next week, he was back out of the rotation, and from the moment he walked off the floor against St. John’s (NY) until the end of his Xavier career, he only posted another 6/7/1.

Through no fault of his own, King James never quite found his position in the rotation for Xavier this season. The second half of his story is his to write in Jacksonville.