Over the last 30 years, there hasn’t been many schools that has been as consistent as Xavier. Since Pete Gillen took over as head coach of the squad for the 1985-86 season, Xavier have had only had three seasons where they haven’t made it to either the NIT or NCAA Tournament. During those NCAA tournament appearances, Xavier has had plenty of success as they’ve made it to seven Sweet Sixteen’s and two Elite Eight’s.have only had three seasons where they haven’t made it to either the NIT or NCAA Tournament.
During those NCAA tournament appearances, Xavier has had plenty of success as they’ve made it to seven Sweet Sixteens and two Elite Eights.Despite that continued success, there’s been one plateau that Xavier have never been able to reach: the Final Four. That absence has ultimately led to a lot of heartbreak for Xavier fans, as the school continues to be in reach of that goal before having it pulled from their away from their fingertips.
The most painful example of that was during the 2004 NCAA Tournament, where the Musketeers faced the Duke Blue Devils in their Elite Eight matchup. Throughout the game, Xavier was extremely competitive with the #1 ranked Blue Devils, to the point where they had a three-point lead with five minutes to go. However, the perimeter prowess of Luol Deng and JJ Redick ultimately pushed the Blue Devils over Xavier.
More than ten years after that crushing defeat, Xavier seems to have their eyes set on breaking that proverbial glass ceiling and finally make it to the Final Four. Those high hopes are primarily due to their talented duo of Trevon Bluiett and Edmond Sumner. Sumner and Bluiett create one of the most dangerous duos in college basketball, due to Bluiett’s perimeter prowess and Sumner’s elite ability to just be a dominating force on both ends of the ball.
In regards to Edmond Sumner, he’s the perfect example of a player that just jumps out at you at you during the first time that you watch him play. That’s due to the sheer effort that Sumner exhibits on both ends of the court. Whether it’s fighting through an off-ball screen on defense or coming out of nowhere to grab an offensive board, Sumner shines as a player willing to do anything possible that could help lead Xavier to victory.
Sumner’s willingness to do anything that could help lead Xavier is most evident on the defensive end. On that end of the court, Sumner is the prototypical definition of a defensive pest. From the moment that his opponent gets the ball, Sumner is able to quickly stick to them like velcro.
After Sumner gets that initial grasp on to the opposition, he’s a defensive force to be reckoned with. He works hard to get around off-ball screens and keep pace with the opposition when they decide to cut. That second example is seen in the play below, as Sumner does a great job of switching onto the guard and sticking near him before Sumner makes a clean block.
His defensive prowess is also evident when you take a look at Sumner’s stats. Per 40 minutes, Sumner averaged 1.8 steals, which was the 8th highest average in the Big East last season.
Transitioning over to the offensive end, Sumner continues to shine as a versatile threat. Sumner’s best skill on the offensive end is probably his ability to drive towards the paint on a consistent basis. As an on-ball cutter, Sumner absolutely thrives as he displays great handles and a blazing quick first step. On that path towards the basket, Sumner uses great hesitation moves to work his way past any opponent that stands in his way. Even when there’s someone in his path, Sumner does a great job of using his long 6’5, 183-pound frame to score around contact.
Sumner’s work as a ball-handler has also helped him become a solid facilitator. Whether he’s working around the rim or driving towards the paint, Sumner shows himself as someone that can make crisp passes. When he’s working on the perimeter, Sumner is an unselfish player as he does a great job of quickly finding a player that he can dish it to. The same can be said about his work as a drive-and-dish facilitator, as you can see in the play below.
Those skills have allowed Sumner to put up some pretty solid facilitating stats. Per 40 minutes, Sumner averaged 5.6 assists, which was the 8th highest per 40 average in the Big East last season. Alongside that, Sumner maintained a solid 1.7 Ast/TO ratio.
The final part of Sumner’s overall offensive work is as a shooter. In regards to his work as a perimeter shooter, this is probably the weakest part of Sumner’s work on that end of the court. That’s due to him shooting a below-average 30% from beyond the arc, on 2.6 attempts per game.
Despite that inconsistency as a perimeter shooter, Sumner shows plenty of potential in that area. Sumner has a pretty solid shooting stroke, as he starts at a nice base and has a pretty high release point. Alongside that, he seems to have a ton of confidence in his shooting stroke, which is especially evident in the play below.
As Edmond Sumner heads into his sophomore season, the young guard will have a lot of pressure placed upon his shoulders. Alongside Trevon Bluiett, Sumner will look to help lead Xavier to the Final Four, a goal that has continuously been within the school’s grasp. Although the team had never been able to reach that goal in the past, Sumner might be the player that can help push Xavier to the Final Four.