Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports

Norfolk State transfer Gaston should add toughness, defense for Xavier

Rick dives into what Xavier fans can expect from Norfolk State transfer RaShid Gaston in the 2016-17 season.

Regardless of what happens over the next few weeks, Xavier is going to have some serious production to replace in its frontcourt heading into the 2016-17 season. With at least six players battling for minutes, the Musketeers' post rotation will be the most interesting storyline to follow throughout the offseason/preseason. 

Norfolk State transfer RaShid Gaston is one of the guys expected to be a contributor next season. The senior practiced with the team this year while sitting out per the NCAA transfer rules, and will have one year of eligibility left. 

Gaston is listed at 6-foot-9, 240 pounds on the Xavier roster. 

While playing on the scout team in practice and working against Jalen Reynolds and James Farr everyday, he showed that he can hold his own on defense and as a rebounder. He plays a tough, physical brand of basketball. 

In his junior season at Norfolk State, he averaged 15.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.2 blocks in 30.7 minutes per game. 

Offensively, he was efficient and self-aware within his role. As a result, he averaged 1.045 points per possession and shot 62.6 percent from the field, which ranked fourth in the country. He also got to the free-throw line on 19.5 percent of his possessions used. For comparison's sake, Jalen Reynolds went to the free throw line on 17.5 percent of his possessions this year, and James Farr did 15.7 percent of the time.

Most of Gaston's possessions were used either in the post (28.7%) or on "cuts," which includes dump-offs at the rim (23.3%). He shot 53.6% on post-ups, and averaged 0.91 points per possession. Most of those post-ups resulted in a hook shot attempt. He averaged 1.27 points per possession and shot 68.8 percent on cuts to the basket. Most of his other offensive possessions used were stick-backs (17%) or transition opportunities (13.8%). He was 6-of-18 on mid-range jumpers, and didn't attempt a three. He struggled at the free-throw line, shooting just 54.3 percent. 

Defensive efficiency stats are far from perfect, and even Synergy (the company that provides these stats) admits that these numbers shouldn't be used as an end-all-be-all metric without context. However, it's one of the better measurements we currently have for evaluating defensive performance, and, since it's flawed across the board, it can be useful for comparing teams and players. As a defender, Gaston's opponents averaged 0.76 points per possession while shooting 35.7 percent from the field against him during his junior year. 

He was particularly effective defending against post-ups, which is also where the Synergy numbers are probably most useful. He allowed offensive players to shoot 36.2 percent and average 0.60 points per possession in the post. In isolation situations, he also showed the ability to move his feet, holding opponents to 0.63 points per possession and 31.3 percent shooting. 

The competition that Gaston faced in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference has to be taken into account when looking at his video clips or stats. However, when factoring in what he's done in practices at Xavier this year combined with all the information we have on his playing career at Norfolk State, it seems at a minimum Gaston will bring toughness, solid defense and rebounding for the Musketeers in his one year of eligibility. 


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