Xavier’s TBT team is comprised of fan favorites and cult heroes of teams gone by. In this brief series we are going to focus on the moment that encapsulates that players career. This won’t necessarily be the guy’s best game or his biggest scoring output, but it will be the one (we think) that demonstrates what he meant to the program or the one that everyone will remember. Feel free to disagree in the comments and on Twitter.
BJ Raymond is the kind of guy that makes Xavier the program it is. A mostly unheralded recruit, he turned himself into a bonafide star by the senior season in which he scored 14.1 points per game, played 30 minutes a contest, and buried over 40% of his threes. BJ could play.
To call the professional career of the 35 year old itinerant is to understate it. BJ has played in Belgium, Slovenia, Finland, Georgia (country, not state), and Italy, and is now starting to replay the hits by swinging back through Finland and Belgium the last couple of years. for Lapuan Korikobrat in Finland this season he has averaged 12.9/4.5/2.6. The old dog still has a little bite, which is why he is back on Zip Em Up as a player/coach.
None of that is why we remember BJ, though. For that, we spin the clock back to March 27th, 2008. BJ was a junior that year, and had emerged as a clutch sniper for Sean Miller’s Musketeers. (I love typing that.) X met old foe Bob Huggins in the Sweet 16 with a shot at UCLA for the Final Four on the line. For what happened, for why BJ Raymond is a Xavier legend, I’ll turn it over to what I wrote a decade ago:
BJ Raymond hadn’t scored all game until his layup in overtime. His only two shots had been errant and, in true BJ fashion, he wasn’t exactly dominating the glass. In OT however, he came alive. A Joe Mazzula bucket pushed the West Va lead back to two before Xavier’s undersized point guard found Raymond open for his first three of the game. Defense forced a turnover and then a huge offensive rebound gave Xavier the ball and a one point lead with thirty seconds to play and two seconds on the shot clock.
With West Virginia (and most of the country, probably) expecting the ball to go into Josh Duncan, Coach Sean Miller saw his chance to go for the kill. With the ball being played in from deep in front of the left corner by Burrell, Coach Miller ran Duncan high as a decoy. Drew Lavender lined up just a couple of steps closer to the basket than Duncan and did his level best to look non-threatening. BJ Raymond stood alone, on the opposite block and completely isolated. As the play swung into action he looked toward the top of the key to screen for Duncan. Duncan raced to the hoop off the backscreen that Raymond set.
For just a second it looked as if Bill Raftery would be right. Duncan was heading for the rim and Stan Burrell seemed coiled, waiting to throw the lob. In that moment, West Virginia took the bait. Raymond’s man frantically chased Duncan as Duncan’s own man came off Raymond. BJ drifted aimlessly just long enough to let his man clear and then cut for the three point line, signaling with all the fervency of a drowning man trying to signal a passing boat. The ball arrived on a perfect arc, BJ set his feet, took his time, and shot himself into Xavier folklore.