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Zach is back

Xavier returns a huge piece in their quest to improve on last season

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

First off, it’s cool that someone includes the managers in big news. God knows they deserve to be recognized for their work.

And, man, what big news this is. Zach Freemantle was arguably Xavier’s best player last season. He was averaging 15.2/8.1/2.9 when he went down with injury. He had a triple double in a game. He was shooting 63.6% behind the arc. His offensive efficiency was a sterling 110.9 despite leading the team in usage when he was on the floor. His assist rate was a ridiculous for a big man 19.2%. He led the team in defensive rebounding. There’s not a way to measure performance that Freemantle wasn’t excellent in last season.

The season may have been entirely different had Big Frosty been there against Texas. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which he occupies the space in the post that Dylan Disu vacated. Why is that painful memory pertinent now? Because it shows how this team could work with Freemantle back. Jerome Hunter will be here and new addition Abou Ousmane figures to add in some defensive mettle. Couple that with the offensive stylings of one of Xavier’s best players, and you get a retooled front line that looks very different in terms of approach to the game, but still very good.

It was hard not to look at the team that made the Sweet 16 and wonder how all that talent would be replaced. Now, large parts of it have. There aren’t like for like replacements for Colby Jones of Jack Nunge to be found, but that doesn’t mean the roster can’t come together in a different way. Before Ohio is even out of the clutches of a cold spring, Sean Miller is putting together a team that should warm hearts come this winter.