Basketball notes: Players moving on

By: Brent Raines ~Sports Editor~

Newswire photo by Adam Spegele | Austin throws down a dunk in the final seconds of a 85-74 win over Providence.

After a couple of dramatic heaves from Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig resulted in an early and disappointing end to Xavier’s season, a flurry of activity has changed the look of next season’s Musketeers. Here is some Xavier basketball news that you need to know as summer approaches:

Changing of the guard, but mostly forwards: In addition to the departures of graduating seniors Remy Abell and James Farr, a trio of Musketeers are leaving earlier than expected.

Redshirt junior forward Jalen Reynolds is planning to graduate in May and declare for the 2016 NBA Draft. Both Reynolds and sophomore forward Trevon Bluiett declared for the draft, but Reynolds has hired an agent, which locks him into this year’s player pool. Most draft analysts believe the 23-year-old Detroit native will go undrafted.

“Jalen Reynolds isn’t leaving early. He graduates in May,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack tweeted. “He may be giving up one season of eligibility but he’ll forever be a Xavier graduate!”

Bluiett, on the other hand, has yet to hire an agent, a move that allows him to return to school if he receives negative feedback on his draft stock. Many around the program expect Xavier’s leading scorer to return for his junior season.

Two other Musketeers are leaving to continue their college careers elsewhere. Redshirt freshman forward Makinde London from Nashville, Tenn., has decided to transfer closer to home. London, who played in 18 games this season and averaged 1.8 points and 5.3 minutes per game, fell behind freshman forward Kaiser Gates on the depth chart as the two share a similar playing style and build.

“We appreciate Makinde’s contributions to our program and wish him well,” Mack said in a statement announcing London’s intention to transfer.

Sophomore guard Larry Austin Jr. has also decided to transfer in a move to get more playing time. After losing a battle for the starting point guard spot to redshirt freshman Edmond Sumner, Austin appeared in all 34 games for the Musketeers, averaging 1.8 points in 19.8 minutes per game. Incoming freshman Quentin Goodin was expected to take even more playing time from Austin.

“We appreciate Larry’s contributions to our program and wish him well,” Mack said in a statement announcing Austin’s departure.

The departures leave three open scholarships for next season, which may be filled by transfers or incoming freshman.

No Gavitt Game: In an unexpected move, Xavier was left out of next season’s edition of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an early season showcase that pits Big East teams against Big Ten teams. Rumors circulated that the Musketeers would draw Wisconsin, the team that knocked them out of the NCAA Tournament last month, but those proved to be false. Last November, Xavier traveled to Michigan to face the Wolverines as part of the Gavitt Games.

Mack Gets Extended: Xavier extended the contract of Mack by one year, through the 2021- 22 season. The extension likely comes with a hefty raise for the 2015-16 USWBA Henry Iba National Coach of the Year winner, although the terms of which are not disclosed since Xavier is a private institution.

Staying Farr Ahead: Farr spent last week playing in the Portsmouth Invitational, a tournament that brings 64 graduating seniors expected to be second round or undrafted NBA prospects. Farr averaged 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks over his team’s three games.