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.
To answer the question of Desmond Claude requires first looking at Xavier’s roster without him. Last season the Musketeers turned the ball over on only 16.7% of their possessions and assisted on 55.9% of their made field goals. Both of those numbers hover just outside of the elite level. You could be forgiven for looking at both of them and assuming that X had a player that orchestrated a high level offense.
That wasn’t the case, though. Xavier used a variety of players at the point. Paul Scruggs, Dwon Odom, Adam Kunkel, and Colby Jones all spent time initiating the offense for Xavier. That led to several playmakers, but occasionally meant Xavier struggled with pressure when they didn’t have a player to just thrown the ball to and get out of the way.
X is now without the primary two of those players in Scruggs and Odom. The player with the highest remaining assist rate is Colby Jones. His 17.9% assist rate hangs just above his 17.1% turnover rate. Adam Kunkel’s turnover rate was only 12.5%, but his assist rate hit only 15%. Neither player is particularly well suited to being the primary initiator of the offense.
All of that finally brings us to Desmond Claude. Claude is a 6-5, 200 pound freshman pure point guard. Those measurements slightly undersell him, because the kid is built. More importantly than that, Claude is renowned for a high basketball IQ and his ability to get into an offense and facilitate. He wants the ball, and he wants to make it move. He’s the one guy on this roster who is a pure one guard.
But he’s just a freshman. You can play the highest level HS ball you want, but none of it will compare to a Shootout on the road or a long trip to Omaha to play Creighton. Being 6-5, 200 is a massive advantage even in big HS ball, it will be less of one on college. Claude also has some trouble staying in front of quicker guards. He’s got all the tools necessary to be a high level point, but that’s a notoriously hard proposition for a freshman.
Ultimately, it comes down to Sean Miller. Miller has a thing for tough nosed guards with some swag. Xavier has one of those. Miller also is renowned for excellent point guards. Xavier does not have one of those. If Claude can start and play at a high level, this team immediately becomes a serious threat. Getting him there is on the coaching staff. Desmond Claude is Xavier’s point guard of the future. If he’s good enough to be the point guard of the present the sky may be the limit for him.