#42 Xavier Men's Basketball 2021-2022 Preview

Xavier Musketeers
2021-2022 Overall Rank: #42
Conference Rank: #4 Big East
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This is an important season for Coach Travis Steele and Xavier. The Musketeers have been decent during his three years leading the program, but Xavier expects to consistently be in the NCAA Tournament and they have fallen short recently. With four starters returning and plenty of proven depth, this should be the season where Coach Steele breaks through and finally takes Xavier to the tournament.
2020-21 Record: 13-8, 6-7
2020-21 Postseason: None
Coach: Travis Steele
Coach Record: 51-37 at Xavier, 51-37 overall
Key Departed Players:
Jason Carter, Forward, 5.5 ppg
Bryan Griffin, Forward, 3.9 ppg
C.J. Wilcher, Guard, 3.3 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Zach Freemantle, Junior, Forward, 16.1 ppg
Paul Scruggs, Senior, Guard, 14.0 ppg
Nate Johnson, Senior, Guard, 11.4 ppg
Colby Jones, Sophomore, Guard, 7.7 ppg
Adam Kunkel, Senior, Guard, 7.0 ppg
KyKy Tandy, Junior, Guard, 6.6 ppg
Dwon Odom, Sophomore, Guard, 6.6 ppg
Ben Stanley, Senior, Forward, 6.0 ppg
Dieonte Miles, Sophomore, Forward, 2.6 ppg
Key New Players:
Cesare Edwards, Freshman, Forward
Jerome Hunter, Junior, Forward, Transfer from Indiana
Jack Nunge, Junior, Forward, Transfer from Iowa
Elijah Tucker, Freshman, Forward
The inside-outside duo of Zach Freemantle and Paul Scruggs can carry this team a long way. Freemantle is a 6-9 forward who led the team with 16.1 points and 8.9 rebounds. He is very efficient scoring in the paint, but is a threat to step outside and knock down the occasional three-point as well. Scruggs is at his best attacking the basket and tallied 14.0 points, 5.7 assists and 1.6 steals a season ago. The pieces around Freemantle and Scruggs will make the difference between an NCAA Tournament berth and another painfully close campaign. Nate Johnson is a superb pure shooter and hit 45.2 percent of his 93 attempts from beyond the arc. Colby Jones is a big 6-6 guard who can do a bit of everything. He averaged 7.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists during his freshman campaign and could be in for a big sophomore season. With Adam Kunkel, KyKy Tandy and Dwon Odom all averaging at least 6.6 points per game, Coach Steele will have a tough time giving all the talent in the backcourt the minutes they deserve. The frontcourt returns senior Ben Stanley and also brings in a couple Big Ten transfers to help add even more depth. Jerome Hunter started four games at Indiana as a sophomore and averaged 6.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in 19.6 minutes per game. Jack Nunge has started a handful of games during his three seasons at Iowa. Last year he averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds and nearly one block. Freshman Cesare Edwards has the talent to crack the regular rotation too. As long as Coach Steele can find roles for everybody, Xavier should be good enough to get back to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.8 (83rd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.2 (176, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.8 (76, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.3 (61, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (123, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.5 (229, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.4 (220, 8)
Rebound Margin: 1.1 (150, 5)
Assists Per Game: 17.6 (7, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (44, 3)
Madness 2021 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#107 Elijah Tucker
#116 Cesare Edwards