How good did you expect Souley Boum to be? I ask that for a couple of reasons.
The first is that he dropped 10/0/7 with 2 turnovers on 4-11/2-5/0-0 shooting in the narrow home win over Seton Hall last night. If I had told you at the beginning of November that Boum would average 10/0/7 and shoot 40% from three, you’d have taken that, right? Thirteen games on, it seemed like a bit of a down game for Boum.
The second is this tweet from Evan Miyakawa today. Actually, I’m not going to embed the tweet, just the table from it:
The actual tweet can be found here; full credit to Evan for making the table and then tweeting it out.
That shows the most improved players from Evan’s projections to their rating right now. If you have good eyes or are reading this on a big screen, you can see that he had projected Boum as the 870th best player in the country with a BPR of just under 1. That’s basically doing okay, but nothing special.
It’s not an unreasonable expectation to have. Boum started his career at San Francisco, where he was a high-usage, fairly inefficient scorer. After averaging 11 points on an EFG% of 43.6%, he took his talents to UTEP. In three years there, Boum averaged 16.9/3.9/2.5 on a shooting line of .387/.345/.845. He posted ORtgs ranging from 100.6 to 109.1 and generally profiled as a bit of a volume scorer as a shoot-first combo guard.
UTEP is in Conference USA, which was the 13th-ranked conference in the KenPom rankings each of the three years that Boum was there. During that time, UTEP never went better than 11-7 in a conference that never sent more than the automatic qualifier to the tournament. He was a pretty good guard on a pretty mediocre team that couldn’t make headway in a one-bid conference.
Then he hit Xavier and exploded. His game averages in points and rebounds haven’t meaningfully changed during the jump from CUSA to the Big East, and his assists per game have gone up by more than 2. More impressively, his shooting has taken a huge leap. His shooting is up by .144/.182/.008 to a staggering .531/.527/.833 line at Xavier. There are 265 teams shooting worse from inside the arc than Boum is shooting from outside it. There are 20 teams shooting worse on layups and dunks! He’s unconscious right now.
Players aren’t supposed to do this. Xavier needed a veteran who could get the ball from defense to offense without depriving the offense of a chance to execute something. Instead, Boum has turned into an immediate Musketeer legend, joining the long line of transfer success stories at X. To make the jump from a mid-major to one of the best basketball conferences in the country is difficult. To do it while hugely increasing your efficiency and maintaining or improving your production is almost unheard of. On our way into the Christmas break, Boum has recalibrated every expectation people had for him.