The Big East Conference looks to be one of the best in college basketball, and Xavier Basketball has a chance to make things interesting. With a new roster that has successful players, Xavier could compete well in the Big East.
Xavier Basketball Preview 2023-2024
Background on Xavier
Xavier had an impressive season in 2022-2023. The Musketeers went 27-10, with a 15-5 Big East Conference record. Finishing second in the Big East, they lost in the Conference Championship to Marquette. With their success, they went into the NCAA Tournament as a three-seed. While they made a nice run, Xavier lost in the Sweet 16 to Texas. Their season was a success in Sean Miller’s first year back in Ohio.
Areas of Success
Xavier was one of the better offensive teams in the country. They were 16th in offensive efficiency in 2022-2023, producing 1.09 points per possession. Additionally, the Musketeers were 5th in overall field goal percentage in the country at 49.2%. They were also first in the Big East in field goal percentage and points per game. Fair to say, offense was the strength of this basketball team.
Areas of Weakness
While they produced one of the best offenses in the country, Xavier did not yield as good of a defense. They were 166th in defensive efficiency last season, according to team rankings. They were also 9th in the Big East. Their struggle came from the fact that they were second to last in the Big East at defending the three.
Structure of Their Team: Key Returners
Xavier loses five of their six scorers from a year ago but retains Zach Freemantle. Freemantle had a foot injury, that kept him sidelined for much of the season. However, he is healthy and produces when he is on the court. Averaging 15.2 points and 8.1 rebounds, Freemantle is a dominant inside-out threat for the Musketeers. Furthermore, Zach is incredibly efficient. Last season, Freemantle shot 58.5% from the field and 63.6% from three-point range. In a season marked with uncertainty because of their losses, Xavier still has Freemantle. Nevertheless, Zach must stay healthy and show better production on the defensive end.
Jerome Hunter had a productive season for Xavier. Averaging 7.8 points a game, Hunter scores in many ways and brings physicality to the wing spot. More importantly, Jerome produced in the NCAA Tournament. Hunter led the Musketeers in scoring with 19 points per game, including a 24-point outing in their first two games. Hunter succeeds scoring in the midrange, and at the basket, as he shot 57.5% from the field. He also brings valuable experience as he was a key contributor last season and is an upperclassman. Nevertheless, Hunter must improve his perimeter shooting, as Jerome only shot 11.1% from three. If he can become reliable, Xavier can be tough to beat.
Desmond Claude is another returning scorer from last year’s team. Averaging 4.7 points a game, Claude has to step into a larger role this season and produce. Claude produced 63 assists to only 51 turnovers, as he is a down-hill driver and playmaker. However, he needs to improve his three-point shooting this season. Only shooting 29.3%, Claude needs to show reliability from the perimeter this season.
New Additions: Xavier’s Transfers
Quincy Olivari is another great get in the transfer portal for Xavier Basketball. Olivari scored almost 1500 points at Rice. He averaged 18 points a game and shot 36% from three. Olivari scores effectively from all three levels and helps Xavier’s perimeter offensive production. In a talented Big East, Olivari scores well. More specifically, he was in the 87th percentile for spot-up production. In terms of fit, he provides an effective scorer who spaces the floor well for Freemantle to operate in the post.
Dayvion McKnight is an excellent pickup for the Musketeers in the transfer portal. A successful guard from Western Kentucky, McKnight adds a good perimeter presence on offense. Last season, McKnight averaged 16.5 points a game and earned Second-Team All-Conference. In 2021-2022, he earned First Team. McKnight has a quick first step, and an ability to score from all levels on the court. He scores in bunches and effectively as he averaged over 16 in the last two seasons. However, the big thing for McKnight will be efficiency from three. Dayvion only shot 33.9% from three-point territory, and Xavier needs spacing with the attention Freemantle demands in the post.
Abou Ousmane is another talented transfer from North Texas. Earning Third-Team All-Conference USA last season, Abou is an excellent player to pair with Freemantle. Ousmane averaged 11.1 points and six rebounds last season and is a post-up big. Xavier needed another big with the loss of Jack Nunge, and Ousmane helps with that issue. He is a good post-up big, who has good passing skills on offense. More importantly, he is an excellent defender, producing a 6.7% block rate. Xavier struggled with defense, and having a shot blocker helps with that problem. Furthermore, Ousmane produced a steal rate of 2.3% and is an excellent offensive rebounder at a 13% rate there.
Dailyn Swain was the 87th-ranked player in the country for the 2023 class. Swan is an athletic and skilled wing. He is a nightmare to stop in transition and has the ability to hit an open three. He gets to the rim easily, using jab steps and crossovers. On the defense end, he provides athleticism to guard the good wings and guards in the Big East.
Trey Green is another talented player coming into Xavier this season. Green was ranked 61st by 247 Sports, and 55th by ESPN. Green is not the tallest guard, but his quickness and shooting ability make him hard to stop. He has a great pace, and understands how to play the point guard position well. Green was the point guard for 5th-ranked Prolific Prep, so he knows how to win. He helps Xavier have a speedy point guard presence and a guy who can hit shots from the perimeter.
Reid Ducharme was a four-star prospect, ranked 117th by 247 Sports. He played at Brewster Academy, so he has success against high-level competition. In terms of skillset, Ducharme shoots the ball at a high level. Reid is also good at attacking the basket going to his right hand. He helps bring shooting, and craftiness on the offense end for Xavier Basketball.
Kachi Nzeh is an athletic big who is extremely productive on the glass. He averaged 17.6 points and 10.7 rebounds at the George School in PA. He scores in the post, plays good defense, and rebounds at a high level. In terms of fit, he brings depth to the Musketeers. He also brings toughness, averaging between 10 and 12 rebounds in his last two high school seasons.
Projected Starting Five for Xavier Basketball
1- McKnight (PG)
4- Freemantle (PF)