Boulder, CO – It was locally noted that the resume of 13th ranked Xavier Musketeers (7-2) includes 14 NCAA Tournament appearances in the last 15 seasons, six Sweet 16 visits and two appearances in the Elite Eight so one could see why playing against the University of Colorado Buffaloes would have an electric atmosphere. The Buffs (now at 7-2) seemed to be a team seeking consistency before beginning the Pac-12 conference season.
Xavier is led by Preseason First Team All-Big East Conference selection Edmond Sumner. A sophomore, Sumner is an ideal 6-6, 186-pound point guard and was named to the “watch list” for the 2017 Bob Cousy Award which recognizes the top point guard in basketball each season. Most scouts see him as a probable NBA First Round Draft selection. To begin any conversation about Sumner, his physical attributes surface first. He has height and length coveted to see over defenders and has elite quickness. Balance, hands, and foot work are also exceptional qualities for Sumner, giving him a pro-ready ability to play the pick-and-roll by getting to rim with a very capable finishing touch, finding the open man (4.3 assists per game) or shooting (49% FG). He is elusive in the paint with adept ball-handling and superior body control. These same talents and skills allow Sumner to create a shot if needed.
Sumner likes to push in transition, keeps his eyes up for total court vision and is a willing passer. He moves well and doesn’t need the ball in his hands but that is where he is most effective. On defense, he is outstanding due to his length and extraordinary quick lateral movement leading to average of almost two steals and 4.8 rebounds per game. Sumner’s athleticism makes him tough to be screened and he competes hard. The young man has a bright future.
The Musketeers led at half 31-28 with both teams committed to tough, aggressive defense. Xavier shot 37 FG% to Colorado’s 34 FG% but the Buffs seemed to gain some confidence by hitting their last 3 point shots of the half after struggling early. Trevon Bluiett, another gifted Xavier guard, was the leading scorer at half with 12 points and was the game’s high scorer with 27.
Bluiett, a 6-6 junior guard, is a solid shooter and rebounder (6.3 rpg) and tends to contribute mostly from the perimeter on offense. He does not display the superior athleticism as others across the country playing his position, but he does have the length and physical frame for the next level. Bluiett is frequently listed as a top 50 NBA prospect. His aptitude in passing and rebounding give him an all-around effective game. If his defense and basketball IQ continue to expand he will have options at the next level.
For this game, Bluiett’s shot selection seems to be primarily from the perimeter and he can shoot with 3-point range. Overall, he scores around 18 ppg and can draw fouls (83 FT%) when he drives to the basket. He does not have great form as a shooter, but it works for him. Very competitive, Bluiett didn’t demonstrate great explosiveness against CU but wasn’t afraid of contact or even creating it. Overall, Bluiett is another outstanding guard that Xavier seems to frequently produce.
Early in the second half and down eight points, Colorado went on a scoring run of 15 straight points to gain the lead and never looked back in a 68-66 win, a nice home victory against a quality opponent in Xavier. They seemed to find their long-range shooting touch. Senior forward, Xavier Johnson (6-7, 225 lbs) had a noticeable all-around game with 18 points (7-of- 11 FG) including 3-of-4 from 3-point range to go along with seven rebounds.
Johnson is an intriguing player with length and good athleticism who can shoot, rebound, and will play defense. He is a slasher and finisher on offense, an adequate ball-handler and is someone to watch this season as a senior leader on a competitive team.
This article was written by Rich Ward, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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