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Player Preview: Can Dieonte Miles be effective on offense?

Dieonte is a monster on defense, but that’s only one half of the game.

NCAA Basketball: Norfolk State at Xavier
A high percentage shot
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

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.

If basketball were like American football, Dieonte Miles would be a first round draft pick in the offing. Dieonte is 6-11, 230 and moves like a guard. Combine that with his height and you have a freak athlete already. Throw in some grown man strength and you have a defensive monster. Play him on only one end of the court and he’s the best player on the team.

That’s not exaggeration. Miles guarded all five positions at some point or another last season. He led the team in block percentage by such a wide margin that he nearly doubled up second place Jack Nunge. That took him away from the defensive glass a bit, but he still managed to have nearly as good a rate as Zach Freemantle.

By adjusted team efficiency, Dieonte Miles was Xavier’s best player. By adjusted team defensive efficiency, Miles was well, miles, ahead of everyone else. There is no reasonable question about it, Dieonte was so good on defense that he far outstripped the rest of the team.

But Dieonte Miles only played 8.7 minutes appeared in 18 games. Part of that was due to injury, the rest was due to serious offensive struggles. (There is also an argument to be made that Travis Steele missed a trick here.) Only Jerome Hunter was worse on offense than Miles, and he at least had some big games. Miles scored nine against Niagara in the season opener and a grand total of 19 the rest of the season.

Dieonte’s problems were everywhere offensively. He got fouled on shot attempts more frequently than any other Xavier player, but only made 36.4% of his free throws. He shot 52% inside the arc which isn’t bad, but was worst of Xavier’s three pure post players. His turnover rate was 17.9%, essentially twice that of Jack Nunge and more in line with a ball handling guard.

Whether Dieonte Miles is a major factor this year comes down almost solely to what he can offer offensively. He doesn’t need to be Jack Nunge, Xavier already has one of those. What he will have to do is not be the worst offensive player on the team. A Dieonte Miles that manages to be average on the offensive end is a game changer for the Musketeers.