Xavier Basketball: Impact of potential losses of Zach Freemantle and Jerome Hunter

Xavier Basketball suffered a couple of major losses with Zach Freemantle and Jerome Hunter, but how can they pick up the pieces and still compete?

Xavier Basketball suffered a huge blow earlier this week after it was announced that stars Zach Freemantle and Jerome Hunter would both be out for the entirety of the upcoming season.

Both players made huge impacts last year for Xavier and were key parts of Sean Miller’s squad that went 23-13 on the season and made a run to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Freemantle had already been out for a while however, his foot injury has kept him out since January 28, and now he will be out for another year.

Hunter has an undisclosed medical issue that was announced to keep him out indefinitely, and his absence is also going to sting for this team. The main hope though is that Hunter can get back to full health as soon as he can.

For this team though, they lost two of their best scorers, and both of these players Xavier had hoped would be able to carry some of the burden that their departures had left behind. Freemantle averaged 15.2 points with 8.1 rebounds per game, while Hunter added 7.8 points per game.

This is a team that has already lost their veterans and scorers, Souley Boum, Colby Jones, Adam Kunkel, and Jack Nunge are all gone to graduation and the NBA, and now they lose two solid contributors on top of that.

This is a Xavier team that is going to have to pick up the pieces, and pick them up quickly, but how exactly will Miller and this coaching staff find a way to keep Xavier competitive despite this?

How Xavier Basketball can move forward

When your team is in a position like this, it is very difficult to field a team that is as good as you had the year before, and even better than the team you expected to field. With senior Desmond Claude being the team’s top returning scorer at just 4.7 points per game, new pieces had to arrive.

For Claude though, he showed some solid scoring ability when he did get the ball, so he will have to step up as more of a leader for this Xavier team especially given his veteran status. This team did make a large number of new additions as they had to though, they went international by adding Lazar Djokovic from Serbia, Gytis Nemeiska from Lithuania, and Sasa Ciani from Slovenia.

These international additions are going to have to step up big time, and they have the potential to do so. Djokovic had a solid FIBA U19 World Cup for Serbia, averaging 14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists in seven games. Nemeiska and Ciani were also solid contributors for their countries, but Djokovic is listed as a freshman, so he will be a solid young player for a while.

In the transfer portal, they went out and got Logan Duncomb from Indiana, Quincy Olivari from Rice, Dayvion McKnight from Western Kentucky, and Abou Ousmane from North Texas. These players are solid in replenishing the roster with experienced guys who are vital when a team loses as much as Xavier had.

So it will not just be on Claude to lead the charge, with a mix of international and transfer help, there will be a decent roster the Musketeers will be able to field when the season comes around. While they may not be as good as the team that made the Sweet 16, Xavier will still have solid contributors and a team that has some talent to hang around the middle of the Big East Conference.