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.
Colby Jones had an incredible freshman season. His slash line was 7.7/4.8/2.9. He shot .464/.757/.333 with an offensive rating of 108.3. Those numbers don’t even delve into the defensive value of someone that Travis Steele called “a Swiss Army knife” before the season started. I’m not certain what kind of knife is a step up from Swiss Army in terms of value and versatility, but Jones was that.
That begs the question of what, precisely, Jones can do to get better. As a freshman he had a game where he scored 20 and was in double digits four more times (and remember, he only played 15 games). Two of Jones’ highest player comps were Solomon Hill and Kris Dunn’s freshman seasons. He had four assists seven times and hit double digits in rebounds once. Short of not catching a virus in a global pandemic, there doesn’t seem like much more he can do short of the usual progression that players make.
Even that, though, understates the talent that Jones has. For starters, his shooting numbers actually have a great deal of room for improvement. Behind the arc his 33% was solid, but not eye catching. Jones doesn’t profile as a great shooter, but that number should go up a bit. Jones field goal percentage at the rim was actually fourth worst on the team at only 58.3%. Jones was also lowest on the team in assisted attempts at the rim, getting only 28.6% of his shots there off of a pass. In short, Colby was driving to get to the rim and not finishing there quite as well as he would have liked.
The other spot where Colby Jones can likely improve his offense is in ball security. While his assist rate of 17.5% was excellent for a freshman forward, his turnover rate was higher than that at 21.3%. That rate was higher than anyone else who logged minutes for Xavier last year. Given Jones averaged 27 minutes per game when he played, that amount of turning the ball over is a legitimate issue to fix. For a team that was tight with the ball last year, Jones was an outlier.
The simple fact is that Colby Jones had the kind of freshman year that most players can only hope for. He drilled a game winning shot, became a vital piece on a team that was excellent until derailed by a pandemic, and he was one of the few reliable defenders on a team that struggled on defense. Where can he go from there? As far as consistent finishing and ball handling will take him. It seems like Travis Steele has landed another good one in Colby Jones.