Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Conference: Big East
Head Coach: Sean Miller
Overall Record: 27-10
Conference Record: 15-5
NCAA Tournament: Yes
Lost in: Sweet 16 to Texas
Gavitt Tipoff - @ Purdue - November 13th
Head Coach: Sean Miller
Overall Record: 449 - 166
Seasons with Xavier: 6 (‘04 - ‘09) & (22 - Current)
Xavier Record: 147 - 57
Starters Not Returning From ‘22/’23 Season
PG - Souley Boum - Pts: 16.4 - Reb: 4.3 - Ast: 4.3
SG - Adam Kunkel - Pts: 10.9 - Reb: 2.7 - Ast: 3
SF - Colby Jones - Pts: 15 - Reb: 5.7 - Ast: 4.4
C - Jack Nunge - Pts: 14.2 - Reb: 7.8 - Ast: 2.1
Starters Returning From ‘22/23 Season
*Note: Zach Freemantle is out until at least January.
*Note: Jerome Hunter is out indefinitely with a medical issue.
F - Jerome Hunter - Sr. - Pts: 7.8 - Reb: 4.4 - Ast: 1.3
F - Zach Freemantle - Sr. - Pts: 15.2 - Reb: 8.1 - Ast: 2.9
Bench Returning From ‘22/23 Season
PG - Desmond Claude - So. - Pts: 4.7 - Reb: 2.5 - Ast: 1.8
G - Kam Craft - So. - Pts: 2.6 - Reb: 1.5 - Ast: .3
F/C - Abou Ousmane - Sr. - Pts: 11.1- Reb: 6 - Ast: 1.1 - Previous School: North Texas
G - Quincy Olivari - Sr. - Pts: 18.7 - Reb: 5.9 - Ast: 2.2 - Previous School: Rice
G - Dayvion McKnight - Sr. - Pts: 16.5 - Reb: 5- Ast: 3.8 - Previous School: Western Kentucky
*All Recruiting Rankings From 247 Composite
PG - Trey Green - 4*(92) - Natl: 73 - Pos: 11
SF - Reid Ducharme - 4*(90) - Natl: 101 - Pos: 21
SF - Dailyn Swain - 4*(90) - Natl: 103 - Pos: 22
C - Kachi Nzeh - 3*(89) - Natl: 146 - Pos: 25
*this is a guess
PG - Dayvion McKnight
SG - Quincy Olivari
F - Kam Craft
F - Desmond Claude
C - Abou Ousmane
Xavier and Sean Miller return two starters, in theory, from last season’s Sweet 16 team (although Freemantle didn’t play in the tournament). Zach Freemantle is the key. A foot injury ended his ‘22/23 campaign with 15 games left in the season, and is lingering into the new season. Best case scenario, he’s back in January, and Purdue misses him, but Xavier gets a boost and ends up as a good win. He was second on the team in scoring and first rebounding trough 22 games. He’s back for another run at his senior season and should be one of the best in the Big East if his foot allows him to play.
Jerome Hunter lead Xavier in scoring in the NCAA tournament with 19ppg in 2023. Xavier needs Hunter to continue his aggressive play on offense both with and without Freemantle. Hunter needs to put up more than 8 points a game this season. He’s shown he’s capable, but needs to do it consistently. This will be made more difficult because Hunter is out indefinitely with a medical condition and is not currently participating in practice. Like Freemantle, best case scenario for Purdue is Hunter returning in January and boosting Xavier’s resume.
Everything else is up in the air as well. Xavier lost 4 starters from last season’s squad, and their two best players are out indefinitely as well. Sean Miller also has to figure out how to best incorporate 3 high usage transfers into his lineup, and that’s not always easy. All 3 of were “the man” on their previous squads and now face the prospect of moving down the offensive pecking order. They’ve got at least 3 career “green light” kind of players, and there is still only one basketball.
While the starting lineup is fairly clear cut, the bench is murky.
Miller and Xavier have too much talent not to figure things out eventually. I’d much rather play them early in the season than late. Desmond Claude could start at point guard, but will most likely play the 3 or 4 in a 3 or 4 guard lineup until/if Freemantle and/or Jerome Hunter returns. He averaged 20 minutes a game last season as the back up point guard, but will probably head to the wing out of necessity, at least until one of Xavier’s big 2 return.
After that, it’s all freshmen or little used guys from the ‘22/’23 season. Craft was a consensus 4* recruit that didn’t get much run last season after suffering an early season knee injury, but should be in line for more run at the 2 or 3. Freshman center Kachi Nzeh better be ready to go out of the box, because this team has a ton of wing talent, but is lacking in the post. He’ll need to contribute early.
Then you have 3 foreign transfers that I don’t know much about. Sasa Ciani is a 6’9” 240 pound forward out of Slovenia who averaged 11 points 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block for his club team. He could come in and start at the four on size alone. Lazar Djokovic is a 6’10”, 230 pound forward out of Serbia. He averaged 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal for Servia in the U19 World Cup, including an 18 point, 6 rebound game against Argentina in a losing effort in the 5th place game. He’s another player that could start at either the 4 or 5 and give Xavier nice size on the interior. Finally, there’s Gytis Nemeiksa, a 6’7”, 220 pound forward out of Lithuania. Listed as a senior, he averaged 11 points, 6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game for his club team, and like Ciani and Djokovic, should solidify the Musketeers front court until either Hunter or Freemantle return. If they don’t return, Xavier should still have enough to compete after bringing in their experienced foreign players.
This is a team in flux, but if their two star forwards return, or their euro forwards pan out, it could be a team you don’t want to play down the stretch. They could be a deadly 7 or 8 seed in the tournament if they get reinforcements. I’m glad Purdue gets them early, but this would have been a more exciting game with Freemantle and Hunter available.
*Shout out to notoriusnc for the update on Freemantle. I missed the update on his injury and assumed he was good to go.
* Shout out to BoilerUp89 for the Hunter information. I missed that update as well. We’re off to a rough start.