With the loss of starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. the Creighton Bluejays will need to re-tool and find a new rhythm on offense. Luckily, there’s a lot of talented depth on this team, and though they won’t fill the enormous shoes that Watson will leave behind, they can still drive this talent-laden team to a excellent finish.
So who will fill in at point guard?
The 6’3 freshman point guard and three-star recruit was in the running to take over for Watson next year along with transfer Kaleb Joseph and Tyler Clement. He averaged 20.7 points per game his senior year of high school, along with 6.9 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game. Tehr Umar profiled him back in the summer.
He’s made an appearance in 13 games this season, averaging 5.8 minutes per game, yet came out as a front-runner to spell Watson after winter break, getting 3 rebounds and two assists in 6 minutes of play against St. John’s, including these two delicious dimes:
There’s so much potential there, and coach Mac has noted that Davion may be better suited for BIG EAST play due to the physicality of the league, stating, “defense and rebounding and some of the athletic players in the BIG EAST, Davion is going to fit.”
Davion was also considering a lot of Ivy League schools during his recruitment which speaks to the intelligence he wields on a daily basis. He’s a quick learner, mature beyond his years, and has been Watson’s pupil everyday in practice.
With his athleticism alone it wouldn’t be too far fetched to see him slot in as the starting point guard, yet he’s still catching up on the defensive end and hasn’t seen a great deal of game action, so quick fatigue may be a factor.
Clement, a 6’1 junior from St. Thomas Aquinas in Shawnee, was the de-facto back up point guard throughout the season last year, spelling Watson when former Jay Malik Albert was still learning the system. He played in 31 games last season, averaging 4.5 minutes, 1.1 points, and 1 assist per game. So far this season he’s played in 15 games, averaging 6.4 minutes, 1.7 points, and less than an assist per game.
What you’ll get out of Tyler is a player who understands the complexity of the offense. He’s been running through opponent’s plays on the scout team this year, and though he doesn’t have a lot of flash, he can run half court sets quite well. His ast/to ratio so far this year is 1:1, so albeit not a safe option as far as carelessness, he’s developed an innate ability to persevere when the chips are down.
He played a bit in the Virgin Islands tournament earlier this year, getting some solid minutes against Wazzu (11 min, 3-4 FG, 6pts) and NC State (13 min, 3-3 FG, 7pts).
He also had arguably the worst game of his career against Arizona State. When Watson went out with foul trouble early on, Clement was tapped to take the helm against the Sun Devils. He proceeded to turn the ball over 4 times in 13 minutes of action, making one free throw and logging two assists. Clement was often uncomfortable, flustered, and unable to deal with double-team pressure, which explains why Mintz was slotted to be Watson’s backup afterwards.
Zierden, the fifth-year senior from Minneapolis, would be the sturdiest option at point while sacrificing tempo. He’s been around the block quite a few times, acting as Creighton’s Ironman, has a keen understanding of the offense while playing solid defense. In Creighton’s win against Xavier, Zierden took the helm at point after two quick fouls from Mintz, and proceeded to go 31 minutes at the ‘1’ yet was unable to record an assist while committing two turnovers.
Zierden’s lost a step or two since injuring his right knee twice, thus would be a half-court style point guard, slowing down the tempo and setting up a play as opposed to running in transition.
Zierden’s best role is also as an offensive wing when you factor in his three point shooting ability. He’s great at spacing off the ball and is a consistent threat from beyond the arc, something that would be taken away as a point guard.
Usually a pretty reliable hand on offense, coming into this season with a 124-46 AST/TO, he’s cooled a bit this year while currently standing at 13-13 ast/to. It’s known that he can log the minutes, but it’s unclear whether the offense would thrive with him at the helm.
Hell yeah, make it happen.