Xavier guard Semaj Christon significantly improved his game during this past offseason. Known as the sophomore leap, Christon became a better finisher around the rim, and started to develop his perimeter skills, unveiling a burgeoning jumpshot. According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, coach Chris Mack received just two years to refine Christon’s skillset: the guard will declare for the 2014 NBA draft.
Mack and Company have the requisite depth to handle Christon’s absence; Dee Davis should return for his final season, and should the incoming roster remain stagnant, the extra minutes will benefit Brandon Randolph and Edmond Sumner. What Xavier will miss without Christon is the element of aggressiveness that the sophomore imbued on the squad; Christon was one of the nation’s best at getting into the lane and drawing fouls.
The loss of Christon, though, has consequences that extend well past Cincinnati — the Big East simply continues to take hits. Buzz Williams left Marquette for Virginia Tech, Mack’s name has been whispered for the opening at Wake Forest, JaKarr Sampson similarly declared for the professional ranks, and now Christon’s announcement. The conference might be entering the realm where it is high major only in the eyes of those who still remember the sweater game and Rip Hamilton. It has endured knocks that have severely diminished its reputation as a premier league.