We’re back! The season is in full swing, or at least picking up pace, which is in turn feeding data into the various spreadsheets that help us analyze and understand what we’re watching. If you’re not a big spreadsheet and data guy (or gal), good news! The only power rankings that matter have returned for another year. Let’s get into it!
But first, a word of either reminder or explanation, depending on how long you’ve been reading our website. We’re a pretty analytical crew here, which makes these rankings something of an outlier. This is a personal, subjective ranking of how replaceable each member of the roster is. It’s not necessarily a measure of who is best, but a measure of who the team can least afford to lose. It’s based on player production, who else on the roster can fill the role, my subjective assessment of how doomed I’d feel hearing a sideline reporter break the news that the player wasn’t going to return, and a non-zero dose of recency bias. Okay, here goes.
10. Dieonte Miles
Here’s a concern: will D Miles ever be in a position to be a rotation piece for Xavier? In 26 minutes over the span of 4 games, he has shot twice. His offensive prowess may be limited to his ability to get to the line, where he’s 0-5 this year. He’s a solid defender but prone to foul trouble, and he has a DReb% half that of noted glass cleaner Kyky Tandy. He seems to be brimming with potential, just as he was the day he signed. He’s also about as effective at this point as he was then.
9. Kam Craft
I went back and forth a bit before settling here. Craft has crazy high basketball IQ and a real nose for the ball, but it’s tough for a guy who uses a feel for the game to be effective to establish that feel in limited minutes. Until his stroke settles in enough for him to be an offensive asset off the bench, it’s going to be tough for him to crack the rotation.
8. Jerome Hunter
Almost everything Hunter has done is good. He has good defensive stats, is posting a career high 108.8 ORtg, and is using the limited shots he takes effectively. Unfortunately, two things are undermining him. First is his 32.6% TO rate. When you’re not using a lot of possessions, coughing the ball up a few times is going to really put a dent in your stats. Far and away the biggest issue is his 13 fouls per 40 minutes played rate. That’s just untenable.
7. Desmond Claude
I’ve been impressed with Claude so far, despite some fairly tepid numbers. He has been a good off-ball defender but has had trouble staying in front of quick guards. Turnover issues have cropped up a bit, but he attacks well off the bounce and has shown himself to be a strong finisher around the rim. More importantly, he can initiate the offense well enough that Souley Boum doesn’t have to play 40 minutes a game.
6. Kyky Tandy
Somewhat belatedly, Kyky has arrived. He’s shooting well, playing reasonable defense, and even chipping in on the glass. His usage rate is pretty low, but his efficiency has been excellent and he has done more than enough to justify his position in the starting lineup. There have been a couple of times this year that it has looked like he could score at will; I think he’s poised for a breakout.
5. Adam Kunkel
We’ve often advocated for Kunk as a livewire off the bench, and Coach Miller has been doing the same this year. With Tandy in the starting five, Kunkel has been coming on early and just looking to create chaos. He has a 15.5% usage rate but a 23.9% shots percentage; my man comes off the pine looking to lift. He’s shooting extremely well and leads the team with a 64.3% mark from inside the arc. I’d put the ball in his hand with the game on the line again without hesitation.
4. Jack Nunge
This is a lot of recency bias, as my most recent memory is Trayce Jackson-Davis putting 30 mostly on Jack’s head when holding him to 27 would have likely given Xavier the win. He’s down a bit with a 54.5% shooting percentage from inside the arc the arc this year; that’s actually worse than his shooting percentage from deep. A little more on defense and on the glass and Jack will be back to looking like team MVP.
3. Souley Boum
Boum has been more than advertised so far on the young season. He mowed through the buy games at the start of the year as you might expect he would, but then he dropped a cool 15/5/3 against Indiana on a 116 ORtg. Only foul trouble kept him from posting a monster line and maybe turning the game. He has been a dead eye from deep and done well facilitating for a guy who is - by nature - a combo guard. The 84.2% mark from the line is a nice perk from the guy with the ball in his hands at the end of the game.
2. Zach Freemantle
Zach is back to his best this season, at least early on. He’s second on the team in points and first or tied for first in rebounds, assists, and blocked shots. He also leads the team in minutes and has been a high-energy force on both ends of the floor. He still has a little bit of tendency to express himself too much on the floor, but he was noteworthy in his ability to not run afoul of a touchy officiating crew against Indiana. Progress.
1. Colby Jones
Jones leads the team in assists, blocks, and steals on a per game basis and is third in PPG and RPG. The man Travis Steele once described as the team’s Swiss Army knife has played out as exactly that this year. You only have to look at Xavier’s scrappy showing against Fairfield to see how much Jones is the straw that stirs the drink for this team. He may not be the absolute best at any one thing, but he can do just about everything, and that’s a skill set nobody else on the roster approaches.
Just as a fun aside, it’s almost certain that the top 5 guys here are gone next year, and Kyky Tandy and Jerome Hunter will have been in school for at least 4 years. I hope Sean Miller is already tapping up mid-major stars looking for a jump in competition!