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Can Ben Stanley be Xavier’s answer down low?

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With Griffin and Carter departing, there will be minutes to be had as a big for Xavier this year, but how many will go to the lovable former Hampton man?

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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.

Ben Stanley’s 40 minute averages for Xavier last season came in at an eye popping 25.3/7.4/1.1, which is good news. The bad news is that those numbers were not distilled down from a season of dominance, but rather extrapolated from an excruciatingly fleeting glimpse of a player who overcame some man-made adversity last season, only to be dealt a cruel blow by the injury bug itself.

Stanley came to Xavier from Hampton with a reputation for being a guy who could score the basketball from a variety of ranges in a variety of ways and used his sturdy 6’6” frame to impose himself on anyone able to contain his explosive quickness. Reputation was all it was for the first 7 games of the season as the NCAA engaged in a bit of cruelty for sport in denying the waiver of a young man who came to Xavier in part to take advantage of in person classes and struggled with distance learning. With the reasons for Stanley’s absence befuddling at best, he won Xavier fans hearts anyways with a series of hilariously upbeat performances in the short lived “Mic’d Up with Ben Stanley”. To have the outlook he did in circumstances that people who the NCAA wasn’t screwing over for the sake of it found frustrating spoke volumes about his character and mentality.

Soon enough his chance would come as he was declared eligible as arbitrarily as he had been declared ineligible and made his Xavier debut in the Big East opener, a game most remembered for Adam Kunkel’s buzzer beating heroics. Stanley looked to be finding his feet in the next couple of games, getting to double figures in limited time against both Creighton and Seton Hall, before tearing his ACL in a collision against St. John’s, just 38 minutes into his Xavier career.

As far as on court production, Stanley seems well suited to creating mismatches on offense, as his combination of size and athleticism made him far too much for his opponents and Hampton and played in the Big East in the limited time he had. His shooting numbers show a player who is proficient at scoring, especially when he can get the ball in the mid range, and he should be able to compliment Xavier’s array of slashers and shooters. Defensively, he probably is just not tall enough to guard some of the monstrous bigs in the Big East, so his viability on that end will be dictated by his ability to stay in front of smaller, quicker players. His rebounding numbers from Hampton are not superficially impressive, but in a system that asks him to do a bit less on the ball, his frame and hard nosed mentality should see him become a reasonable replacement for what Xavier got from Jason Carter in those areas.

Beyond all that, Stanley is an easy guy to cheer for (not that Xavier has anyone that I find hard to cheer for). His Xavier career has been almost exclusively him dealing with setbacks, but he has done so in a way that few could criticize and none should. He comes across as a genuinely kind, gregarious person who just wants to play some basketball and earn a degree. Because of the circumstances surrounding his first season at Xavier, we have gotten more of a glimpse of Ben Stanley the person than we have Ben Stanley the basketball player, but I have come away impressed by both.