Bob Stevens

Farr will leave a lasting legacy at Xavier

Xavier honored it's seniors before Saturday's last regular season game, a 98-93 win over Creighton. One of those seniors, center James Farr, has had a particularly memorable career on Victory Parkway.

Fifteen minutes after Xavier's 98-93 win over Creighton on Senior Day, it was easy to see that James Farr had made the right choice. 

The win gave Xavier its best regular season record in school history at 26-4, and Farr has been a big reason for the Musketeers' success, averaging 10.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, which ranks fifth in the Big East. On Saturday, he finished with 16 points (6-9 FG) and five rebounds, including a personal 6-2 run late in the first half where he propelled Xavier in front of the Bluejays, 42-41. 

From that point, the Musketeers never trailed. 

And then there was the scene after the game. Following Fox19's live interview with Farr on the postgame show, he was surrounded by little kids (and a few adults) asking for his autograph and to take a picture with him. One of them had a shirt that read: "Farr 2 Good," same as a whole suite full of people were wearing during the game.

"It means a lot," Farr said. "Just to go out there on my last day (at the Cintas Center) after not having the best first three years of my career...My teammates helped me out a lot this year to get me in this position. Just to go out this way for the regular season feels great."

So, yeah, on Saturday afternoon it was easy to see that Farr choosing to attend Xavier and sticking it out for four years was the right choice. But two years ago, or even midway through last year, it wasn't always so clear. 

Farr arrived at Xavier as a big body with some shooting touch.

As it turned out, his game in its current state didn't translate to high-major Division I hoops. After a developmental freshman year that saw him play in 13 games, he had an inconsistent sophomore season. He scored in double figures six times during the non-conference schedule, but then faded in conference play. He only played two minutes in the Musketeers' Big East tournament loss to Creighton, and then didn't see the floor in the NCAA tournament loss to North Carolina State. 

There were over 450 NCAA Division I basketball players that transferred prior to the 2014-15 season. Farr never even considered it. 

"Never," Farr said. "I'm a guy who just keeps working every day. I just wanted to keep getting better, and I knew I had good players in front of me as well. I just waited my turn, and I think I'm seeing the fruits of my labor now."

The ups and downs continued into Farr's junior year. Around mid-February when he saw 21 minutes in the Crosstown Shootout, it seemed like everything clicked for him. His singular focus became bullying opponents around the basket while trying to grab every single rebound possible. He finished the season strong while carving out a niche in the rotation, playing 17.6 minutes per game in the NCAA tournament alongside Matt Stainbrook and Jalen Reynolds. 

In the offseason, he stayed on campus to work on his game, and it paid off. This season he's been a monster on the glass, and a key cog in the Musketeers' offensive attack. 

He's had some big performances, a few of which were flat-out necessary for the team to win. His 16-point, 19-rebound effort at Marquette stands out, as does his 24-point, 15-rebound night at home against Seton Hall. 

"He understood that if I really dive in, I really listen to my coaches, if I really work hard to get my body right, and I really listen to all the things that the coaches are asking me to do on and off the court, then eventually my time will come," Xavier assistant coach Mike Pegues said. "For that to manifest itself in his senior year with us being 26-4 and him being a huge reason why we're where we are, I just think that's what it's all about. There hasn't been a kid that I've enjoyed coaching as much as James."

Pegues, who is the position coach for post players, deserves a lot of the credit in molding Farr into one of the Big East's top big men. For his part, Pegues is most impressed with the evolution of Farr's offensive skill-set. 

"He came in as a stand still pick-and-pop 3-point shooter, and that was really it," Pegues said. "He was a one-trick pony. He really couldn't do much else offensively other than that. So for him now to be able to catch the ball in the post, play with his back-to-the-basket, and be a tough guy around the rim that can convert and draw fouls, he's done just a fantastic job. I'm happy for him, man. He deserves it."

Being one of the programs most improved players over four years, a model of the "Xavier way" even, will most certainly be a big part of Farr's legacy. But it definitely won't be the only, or even the most important part, of his legacy at Xavier. 

"He's just a phenomenal kid," Pegues added. "He comes from great stock. It starts at home with his family. His mom and dad are great people. They taught him the importance of being a good person first and foremost. They raised him the right way, and he's represented his family really well."

Farr said he sees opportunities to be kind to people or brighten others' days as a blessing.

"Just be humble, and live in the moment," he said about his approach off the court. "I just say hi to people and communicate with them. I want to be the best teammate and best guy off the court that I can be. I know as a student-athlete and a role model I have some extra eyes on me, so I try to make good decisions and say the right things. Hopefully people respect me for that."

Based on the reaction he received at Cintas Center on Senior Day, people more than respect him.

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