Semaj Christon, 6-foot-3 point guard, Xavier
2013-14 stats: 17.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 47.9 FG%, 1.3 steals
Athletic and equipped with great size for a point guard, Christon was considered a surefire first-round prospect by many observers after his freshman year, but saw his stock dropped as he played more off the ball as a sophomore. That wasn’t reflected by his on-court performance, however, as the Cincinnati native showed growth in his two college seasons, improving his biggest perceived issue, outside shooting. But despite his physical tools and high ceiling, there are concerns that Christon might not measure up to his early expectations.
Career highlights: Following a post-graduate year at perennial prep-school powerhouse Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, Christon was an impact player as a freshman point guard, averaging 15.2 points, 4.6 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, winning the Atlantic-10’s rookie of the year award and second-team all-conference honors, with games like 25 points against Purdue, 19 points and a career-high 10 assists against St. Bonaventure and 20 points and seven apiece of assists and rebounds against St. Louis demonstrating his ability. As a sophomore, Christon posted per-game averages of 17 points, 4.2 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals, while improving his three-point shooting to 38.8 percent. He scored in double figures in all but three contests and was a first team all-Big East selection.
[NBA DRAFT PROFILE: Xavier's Semaj Christon]
Strengths: Christon’s size and athleticism for his position set him apart, as his physical characteristics in the same mold of the majority of the dominant young point guards in the NBA. An explosive scorer off the dribble with the ability to distribute, he thrives in open-court situations, can break down defenders and finish in the paint. On the defensive end, Christon still has a ways to go, but with his quickness and length, he has the foundation to be solid on that side of the ball, too.
Weaknesses: Although his three-point percentage went up as a sophomore in college, Christon’s biggest question mark is whether or not he’ll be able to keep defenders honest at the next level. His shooting struggles are also reflected in his mediocre free-throw shooting and by playing off the ball more in his second season, it’s justified to wonder if he’s a true point guard, though he still was an effective playmaker, while reducing his turnovers. Because of his underwhelming supporting cast at Xavier, Christon was given a big load to carry, so he will have to adjust to not being as much as a focal point in the NBA and thus, not forcing the issue as much.
Draft projection: While it’s possible that Christon could sneak into the bottom of the first round with some impressive pre-draft workouts, it’s more likely that he’s an early-to-mid second-round prospect. He’s a potential steal at that juncture, however, as his speed and scoring ability could dictate early playing time, depending on where he lands, although a team with established veterans at point guard could opt to send him to the D-League in lieu of playing sparingly. Assuming he improves his jumper and decision-making ability, Christon has a chance to make a real impact as a intriguing backup and if he works hard enough to develop his game, with the right opportunity, he has the talent to eventually emerge as a starter in the league.