The Xavier Musketeers may have more NBA-caliber players to have come through their program than most people realize.
Xavier is the alma mater of one of the key contributors to the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics in James Posey, and former NBA All-Star David West. The odds of Semaj Christon becoming an NBA All-Star are extremely slim, but he does have the potential to be the best NBA product Xavier University has put in the league in recent years.
The first time I ever saw Christon play was at the Dunkin Donuts Center, when the Musketeers played the Providence Friars last February. The game was important to both teams, because each was on the bubble of making the NCAA Tournament. I remember seeing Danny Ainge, the President of Basketball Operations for the Celtics, sitting courtside and kept wondering who he was scouting and what he wanted to see out of the specific player.
I knew he was not scouting Bryce Cotton of Providence because he was not projected to go in the first round. Then I saw Christon, playing the game faster and harder than anyone on the court. I wondered how he would look in a Celtics uniform and the look on Ainge's face suggested he could have found the backup to Rajon Rondo.
Semaj Christon is a 6-foot-3, 190 pound sophomore who could potentially be one of the biggest steals of the 2014 NBA Draft. Coming out of high school, he was ranked as one of the best point guards in the country and was recruited by some of the top college programs on the east coast. A native of Cincinnati, Christon decided to stay local by attending Xavier while he played at Brewster Academy for one more year of high school ball.
While at Brewster, his game rapidly developed while playing against elite talent like Georges Niang of Iowa State and Nerlens Noel who played for rival Tilton Academy. The depth of his team was also unbelievable with players like Mitch McGary of Michigan, JaKarr Sampson of St. John's, and T.J Warren of North Carolina State who led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring last season.
While at Xavier, he developed a reputation as an extremely good athlete and defender. He started every game as a freshman and was arguably the best player on the team. Semaj also showed his strength and finishing ability by completing 13 and-ones his freshman year. Unfortunately, he struggled with his shooting and was only shooting 25.0 percent from the three-point line and also struggled with his decision-making with almost four turnovers per game.
If your team decides to draft him you could be extremely irritated by how he can over complicate the game. I'm not saying that he plays for fans but if he just slowed the game down more, his turnover-to-assist ratio would improve drastically.
That said, his time at Xavier can be defined by all the hard work he put in during the offseason. He labored in the gym last summer working on his shot, which paid off somewhat his sophomore season, but there is still work to do if he wants to be a reliable NBA shooter. He improved his field goal percentage overall and shot nearly 39.0 percent from behind the arc. He also cut his turnovers per game from 3.6 to 2.6 and finished fourth in the Big East Conference in scoring.
What Semaj's sophomore year at Xavier shows is his willingness to learn and become better. I don't think there were many players in college basketball last year that improved their shooting behind the arc by 14.0 percent. I'm not saying he is the second coming of Ray Allen but he has the potential to be a solid NBA shooter. Maybe he can shoot anywhere from 33 to 35 percent from the three point line. He draws comparison to John Wall and Ty Lawson and is a player that is exciting to watch and can provide several highlight dunks/plays a night.
Semaj shouldn't be surprised if he is the last pick in the first round to the San Antonio Spurs and could learn from listening to NBA veterans such as Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. Under the right coaching and with guidance from NBA veterans, Semaj can definitely end up being one of the biggest steals in the upcoming draft.
There is no player in the second round who has more upside than Semaj Christon. Aaron Gordon is the only one in the draft who can compare to Samaj's motor. In the next few years, if he is a valuable role player off the bench or has even started a few games, I would far from surprised.