Xavier 2014-15 Record: 23-14, 9-9 in the Big East
Key Players Lost: Matt Stainbrook and Dee Davis
Key Players Coming Back: Trevon Bluiett, Jalen Reynolds, Myles Davis, Remy Abell, James Farr, Tim Stainbrook, J.P. Macura, Sean O’Mara, Larry Austin Jr.
New Recruits/Transfers: Edmond Sumner (RS), Kaiser Gates, Makinde London (RS)
While they finished in sixth place in the Big East, the Musketeers were the last conference team standing in the NCAA Tournament; thus making Xavier’s 2014-15 season quite the success.
The Musketeers proved to be a tough out all season. By playing a tough out-of-conference schedule (beating the likes of Cincinnati, Alabama, Stephen F. Austin and Missouri along the way), Xavier was prepared for the rigors of the Big East.
From there, the Musketeers would do well enough in conference play, going 9-9 while sweeping Georgetown and also beating Providence and Butler along the way. The Musketeers would then go on to make a surprise run to the Big East championship before ultimately running out of gas and losing to Villanova.
Bolstered by a high RPI and momentum gained by making the Big East final, Xavier would receive a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament. They would proceed to beat Ole Miss and March darling Georgia State to advance to the Sweet 16. While they gave Arizona all they could handle, Xavier would falter late and lose 68-60.
Individually, the Musketeers got good seasons from Matt Stainbrook and freshman Trevon Bluiett.
Stainbrook, Xavier’s rugged, veteran center, ended his career by averaging a team-high 12.3 and 6.9 rebounds per game, while shooting .613 percent from the field. For his efforts, Stainbrook was named second team all-Big East.
Bluiett, meanwhile, was named to the all-Big East freshmen team after averaging 11 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He also shot .422 percent from the field, .746 percent from the free-throw line and .326 percent from three-point line.
2015-16 Look Ahead:
While the Musketeers lose Stainbrook and Dee Davis, two valuable starters from last season, the outlook is still very rosy for head coach Chris Mack and Xavier next season.
The emergence of Bluiett is something to keep an eye on, as he possesses a tremendous skill set. With him taking on more of a scoring load, watch out. Bluiett is a strong-bodied guard who can attack the hoop relentlessly, as well as drill it from deep. He should take a big leap in his game and contend for all-Big East honors next year.
Complementing Bluiett is Jalen Reynolds in the post. Reynolds is so strong and active in the paint and he is a sheer joy to watch.
Reynolds had a fantastic second half last season, while particularly playing well in both the Big East and NCAA Tournament. He is coming off a season in which he averaged 9.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while shooting .618 percent from the field. With Stainbrook departing, expect Reynolds to fully blossom. Just like Bluiett, Reynolds should contend for all-Big East honors as well.
Myles Davis is also back for the Musketeers. He averaged 10.6 points (third on the team) while shooting .384 percent from three-point range. Xavier will also welcome Remy Abell, J.P. Macura and James Farr back, and all averaged more than 13 minutes per game.
That’s a solid core Mack has to work with.
The Musketeers will be bringing in some solid newcomers, too, as they add a couple of 3-4-star recruits in red-shirt freshmen Edmond Sumner and Makinde London, as well as true freshman Kaiser Gates.
As you can deduce, Xavier is in extremely good position to do damage in 2015-16. The Musketeers can legitimately contend with Villanova, Butler and Georgetown for the Big East crown. A return trip to the Sweet 16 and perhaps even beyond is well within reach.