Xavier’s staff has done an excellent job of bringing in talent at the point guard position for the last several years. Two of the top talents to ever wear an XU uniform have manned the point guard spot during Mack’s tenure as head coach in Tu Holloway and Semaj Christon. Over the last two weeks with college coaches allowed out to evaluate recruits during the NCAA live periods, it’s clear that finding another talented point guard is a priority for the staff in 2016.
Three of the 2016 point guard targets the staff has been watching stood out with their play on Friday at the Peach Jam. King James’ Xavier Simpson, Indy Spiece’s C.J. Walker and New Jersey Playaz Temple Gibbs Jr all put their best foot forward in viewings throughout the day.
Simpson started the run of strong point guard play in an after lunch special against Team Scan with Xavier head coach Chris Mack sitting courtside. Though small and not an elite athlete, Simpson uses his tight handle and changes gears well to break down defenses and get into the lane where he has a good feel for his mid-range jumper and floater. He plays with great pace, advance passes well and makes great decisions in transition – all which help his team play faster and more efficient. The most impressive part of his performance on Friday was the four 3-pointers he hit in the first half of the game, including a deep one at the buzzer before halftime. He finished with a team-high 19 points and five assists.
Simpson doesn’t have a lot of “wow factor” to his physical makeup, but, In addition to all of the tools mentioned, he seems to have that special “it” that is so hard to put into words but easy to see when he’s in control of the game with the clock winding down in a close contest.
Later in the afternoon, it was Walker’s turn to put on one of the best performances he’s had all spring and summer. The 5-9 point guard ran his team and passed well, as he typically does, but on Friday he was more impressive as a scorer than he’s been in past viewings. He hit a few long pull-up 2-pointers off of the bounce and had a couple of nice floaters when he got into the lane. He had a more aggressive mentality when he got into the lane off of the bounce, which led to more effective playmaking for both himself and his teammates. The most impressive part of his effort may have come on the defensive end where he locked up Terrence Mann (offers from Florida, FSU, Georgetown, Marquette, Maryland and more.) in the first half and then did a nice job on standout 2016 guard Bruce Brown, who has five or more inches and lots of muscle on Walker. He finished with 11 points, five assists and two steals.
Walker has a lot of similarities to current Xavier point guard Dee Davis, especially when it comes to strengths and weaknesses. He’ll need to continue to show this type of development on his offensive game to improve his stock with college coaches, but there’s no doubt that he can be a steady floor general and strong on-ball defender.
The final performance of the night came from New Jersey Playaz point guard Temple Gibbs, who put on a show in front of a packed gym with fans eager to see two undefeated teams in the Playaz and Each1Teach1 with several high-major talents on the court. Gibbs came out on fire, spraying jumpers from the outside in the first few minutes to jump-start the Playaz offense. He then attacked the basket aggressively in transition and on the secondary break where he was able to show off his impressive body control and smooth athleticism when finishing at the rim despite all the length and athleticism lurking in the lane for Each1Teach1. He has great length and athleticism for the point guard position, and has the makings of a high-level playmaker on both ends of the court. He showed good instincts on defense with a few deflections and strips. He finished with 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting with four steals and three rebounds.
Gibbs is a new name on the radar, so Friday presented the first opportunity to really evaluate him. He did nothing but impress, and currently looks like the best of these three guards. While he may be more of a scorer and playmaker than a true point, he seems to have the most tools to work with at this point.
Simpson already has a Xavier offer. He also holds offers from Cleveland State and Akron; but Purdue, Ohio State and Michigan State reached out and started showing interest this weekend. Gibbs had offers from Oklahoma, Miami, Seton Hall, Temple, South Florida, and Towson coming into the Peach Jam; but it’s likely that he’ll have several more after the way he played on the big stage this weekend with tons of coaches watching. Expect Xavier to be one of those schools that offers. Walker has had Xavier interest for a while now, and will likely be a prospect that they continue to recruit. He has offers from Cincinnati, Butler, Ball State and Western Illinois.
Gibbs, Simpson and Walker aren’t the only three point guards the Musketeers are recruiting in 2016, but they’re all targets that the staff is likely to maintain a serious relationship with going forward if they continue to play like they did on Friday at the Peach Jam.