By: Kyle Tooley ~Staff Writer~
The Xavier Musketeers are in the midst of arguably their best season in school history and the country is starting to take notice. Though Chris Mack’s team would’ve loved to win their first Big East championship, they still secured a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and have plenty to look forward to heading into March Madness.
Though there is still a lot of basketball to be played, many major awards have already been announced for the regular season, and Xavier took home a respectable amount.
Trevon Bluiett headlines Xavier’s award winners, as he was a Big East all-first team selection as well as a selection on USA Today’s All-American third team. The sophomore out of Indianapolis averaged 15.5 points and 6.2 rebounds while primarily playing the four position, which is even more impressive considering his 6’6” frame. His ability to score from just about anywhere on the floor helped him become the team’s leading scorer, shooting 42 percent in about 30 minutes per game.
Edmond Sumner, to the surprise of no one, was a unanimous selection to the Big East all-freshman team, finishing as the team’s second leading scorer and second in assists. His length, shooting and ability to finish at the rim helped lead Xavier to its highest ranking in school history, as the point guard position was a huge question mark coming into 2015 following the departure of Dee Davis. Sumner lived up to the hype he received as an incoming freshman, and will hopefully be a huge part of this team for the next few seasons.
JP Macura, though not leading his team in bench points or rebounds, brought home the Big East’s sixth man of the year award, as he averaged almost 11 points in about 22 minutes played. His “in the gym range,” as Gus Johnson would say, as well as his game-changing defense at the top of Mack’s 1-3-1 zone was a huge boost for the Musketeers, and it didn’t go unnoticed. With the departure of Remy Abell at the end of the season, Macura should probably move into a starting role as a junior.
Mack was named as the US Basketball Writer’s Association’s coach of the year, which ended up being a surprise to no one. After being Sporting News’ midseason COY and leading the Musketeers to a historic season, Mack was leading almost every national COY poll.
However, in much more surprising news, Mack was not even named the best coach in the conference, as the Big East COY was split between SHU’s Kevin Willard and Nova’s Jay Wright. Though surprising to say the least, he should still take home a few more coach of the year awards from other news outlets.
It was a great year for the Musketeers during awards season, and somehow they may have still gotten snubbed. One has to feel upset about Mack not being named the best coach in the conference, and James Farr or Myles Davis could have easily been third-team conference selection or honorable mentions at least. But either way, we’re proud of the guys that took home the hardware, and in the end, those awards will only matter in March.