Edmond Sumner's season came to a screeching halt in the middle of conference play, after a freakish non-contact knee injury. The Xavier point guard executed a tough finish in traffic against St. John's in January, but he landed awkwardly on his left knee and never returned to the game. A MRI would soon reveal a torn ACL, putting an unfortunate end to his season.
A couple months later, in late March, Sumner announced that he would not return to Xavier next season and that he would sign an agent and enter the NBA Draft.
Before the injury, Sumner played in 21 games, averaging 15.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. He shot 47.9 percent on the floor. Will he hear his name called on Draft Day, becoming the first Musketeer to be drafted since Semaj Christon in 2014?
Standing 6-foot-5, with some places listing him as 6-6, Sumner is well over the average NBA point guard height of 6-2.75. He has a size advantage over most point guards, and he's not afraid to utilize it. Sumner plays aggressively, looking to bully his way past his matchup. You won't see him getting cute with fadeaway jumpers or pull-up shots anytime soon, he's going to stay low and attack the basket. Aside from his height, his 6-foot-9 wingspan and a standing reach that is just over eight and a half feet are something to admire. In fact, these are measurements characteristic of a shooting guard, but he has that physical build as a point guard. He’s tall, lengthy, and still isn’t even at his peak yet. There’s still room for him to put on pounds and fill out his upper body to complement his frame. This will benefit him on both ends of the court, as he will be able to see over his defender offensively and hold a size advantage. Defensively, it’ll help him smother his target at the perimeter or get into passing lanes.
Sumner is an explosive guard, one that has an explosive first step to blow by opponents and a solid jab step to help create space. He thrives in pick-and-roll situations, making him a threat to score or dish. Sumner is also excellent in isolation. He can beat a defender one-on-one and if he can get into the open space, you can bet he’ll pick up steam and finish at the basket. He is crafty, boasting a smooth euro step and the ability to finish above the rim or through contact. With his above NBA average stride length, he can burst to the basket quickly and if he’s fouled, he can convert at the line. At the NBA level, he’ll have even more space to work with on the floor and that should translate well to his slasher style of attack. Once he gets to the basket, he’s finishing the job, converting just over 53 percent of shots at the hoop (according to Synergy Sports Technology).
When healthy, Sumner is one of the top athletes around the Big East. He’s shifty, explosive, and quick, all of which are going to be helpful traits and tools at the next level. He has excellent bounce for a point guard and can rise up to flush the ball through with a powerful dunk. He doesn’t really rely heavily towards one hand, as he’s able to not only dribble and handle the ball well with either hand, but he can also finish with both. Sumner doesn’t need the ball to perform well, as he’s demonstrated with the way he beats his man on a cut or finishes alley-oop lobs that he is more than capable of using his athleticism to be a threat, even when playing off-ball.
This will be one of the biggest concerns regarding Sumner heading into the NBA Draft. With his torn ACL in January, it's quite possible that he will miss some of the NBA preseason and regular season. However, his timetable for a return is still undetermined. NBA teams may choose to let him rest up to peak physical condition, or he may push himself to comeback earlier. Aside from his ACL, his injury history leading up to that point isn't squeaky clean. Just a few weeks before the knee injury, he sustained a partially torn left labrum after colliding with Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo. He opted to play through the shoulder injury, but got surgery on it once he was done for the year. His freshman season was derailed by chronic tendonitis in his knees, forcing Chris Mack to redshirt him. Then, there was also the scary fall and subsequent head injury he took against Villanova in 2016. All in all, each year of Sumner's Xavier career had some type of injury for him to deal with.
Opposing defenders have sagged off Sumner at the perimeter, and for good reason. Two years ago, he shot a meager 30.1 percent from beyond the arc, and this past season he was even worse--just 27.3 percent. In this day and age of the NBA, the three-point line is so vital to how teams perform on the court. It’s gotten to the point where teams are rethinking how they use some big men, opting to go for the ones that can stretch the floor and drain shots from long range. Unfortunately, this part won’t go well for Sumner, especially with the much farther three-point line of the NBA (compared to college). On top of that, he’s not exactly a threat to score in the mid-range. His shot is a bit inconsistent, even though he has shown flashes of making a few nice jumpers in his highlight reels. According to Synergy Sports Technology, he only converted on 25 percent of 60 jump shots from this past season.
Still Growing as a Point Guard
This isn’t entirely a weakness. In fact, some of this section could probably go under the strengths section, depending on what a team is looking for. The upside is certainly there if he can stay healthy, but if a NBA team is looking for an experienced facilitator at a high level right away, he might not be the fit—yet. Yes, he played point guard in high school and practically almost his whole life. If you look at his redshirt freshman year, his first complete collegiate season, he mainly played off-ball and deferred to Myles Davis. This past season was his first full year as the primary point guard and facilitator. He slightly increased his assist rate by five percent, up to 30.3. It also translated to his assists per game, which rose by 1.4 to 5.0 per game. He was able to do all this while keeping his turnover rate (19 percent) relatively the same from just a year before. He still needs to work on his decision-making, sometimes forcing a pass or kicking out a bit too late. On top of that, he sometimes suffers from tunnel vision. He won’t miss the big lurking in the paint as he attacks the basket, but he might miss the open guy on the wing. Overall, he’s still growing as a facilitator and distributor.
Once a sure-fire first round draft pick for the 2017 NBA Draft—or the 2018 one, if he returned—Sumner has fallen on hard times, witnessing his stock plummet in light of his injury. He’s still projected by many to be a second round pick, although a risky one for some—given his injury history. However, he has been brought in by a few NBA teams, including the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, to name a couple. So, the interest is definitely there for a few teams. Both the Bulls and Knicks have picks in the early-to-mid second round and are in need of point guards, so it’s possible one of them—or another team—comes in and scoops him up to stash him for the future.
His game resembles that of Shaun Livingston, the Golden State Warriors’ backup point guard. Like Livingston, he’s not known for his three-point shot, but they both have great size for their position. Livingston battled through knee injuries early in his career and developed into a solid point guard with a deadly mid-range and finishing ability. He eventually found his niche with the Warriors, and now he’s a two-time NBA champion. Sumner parallels Livingston’s style of play so much. If he remains healthy, develop a mid-range game, develop into a contributor in the NBA, he’d gladly love being a two-time champion—even if he’s the leading man, or not.