Xavier musketeers playing in the NBA

By Robbie Dzierzanowski, Campus News Editor

Two former Xavier men’s basketball players continue to make names for themselves in the NBA, as they prove to be important factors on their teams.

Edmond Sumner, a 2017 Xavier graduate from Detroit, MI is making waves and helping the Brooklyn Nets float around five games out of first place in the Eastern Conference. On the flipside, Naji Marshall, a 2020 graduate from Xavier from New Jersey is a consistent force for the New Orleans Pelicans for his third straight season.

Sumner and Marshall, who just missed playing with each other at Xavier by one season, were both a part of separate notable Xavier basketball seasons while playing for the Muskies in the mid to late 2010s.

Sumner was a member of the most recent 2017 Elite Eight team coached by Chris Mack that was a No. 11 seed in the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The team lost in the Elite Eight to eventual national runner-up Gonzaga in San Jose, CA in March 2017. 

While in his three seasons as a Musketeer, Sumner appeared in 59 games, starting in 48 of them and averaging 11.2 points per game while averaging 26.1 minutes per game.

Marshall was an integral part of the 2017-2018 Musketeers team that clinched the school’s first Big East Regular Season Championship in history, earned the final No. 3 ranking in the AP Poll during the regular season, a school record and helped earned the school’s first and only No. 1 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament ranking in school history. 

During his three-year career at Xavier, he played in 99 games, starting 82 of those, and averaged 13 points per game and playing an average of 31 minutes a game.

Sumner, who was drafted in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft at 52 overall, played four seasons for the Indiana Pacers before suffering a torn Achilles tendon in Sept. 2021. In Oct. 2021, he was traded alongside a second-round draft pick to the Brooklyn Nets, where he was waived by the Nets. This past summer, Sumner resigned with the Nets despite having not appeared in a game with the team the previous season.

Marshall, an undrafted forward, declared for the NBA Draft in 2020 after coming off a stellar junior season at Xavier where he averaged 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.0 rebounds per game. He was a member of the 1,000-point club at Xavier, scoring a total of 1,277 points in three full seasons as a Musketeer. 

In the NBA, Marshall is in his third season currently averaging seven points per game and shooting 37% from three-point range. He made his NBA debut as a member of the Pelicans in Jan. 2021 and began receiving consistent minutes in April of the same year due to a number of injuries to players on the team.

Marshall signed a multi-year contract extension in May 2021 and has now appeared in over 100 games for the Pelicans, including the 2022 NBA Playoff series against the Phoenix Suns, the reigning 2021 Western Conference Champion.

Sumner in the NBA is quickly making a name for himself after coming off his torn Achilles, finally getting back into the rhythm of professional basketball. He is currently averaging 7.8 points and 1.5 rebounds each per game.  He has appeared in more than 120 career NBA games, majority with his former team, the Indiana Pacers, averaging 46% from the field and shooting 32% from behind the arch. 

Both former Musketeers are in action this week, with Sumner and the Nets battling the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday evening and Marshall and the Pelicans looking to take a win away from the red-hot Boston Celtics on Friday.