If you are not ready to jump through the ceiling right now then you should check your pulse. The Crosstown Shootout is tonight. The biggest game on the schedule for the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Xavier Musketeers. A rivalry game that has the entire city of Cincinnati pulsating. Tonight, legends (and some in the making) from both sides will clash. Troy Caupain. Trevon Bluiett. Gary Clark. Edmond Sumner. And more. But what if both sides were allowed to pick their best players in program history and produce a starting five from that pool? Well then that would be something. Here’s what it would look like.
Xavier’s Starting Five
PG - Tu Holloway
Holloway is part of the most infamous Crosstown Shootout on record and his “zip ‘em up” quote will go down in history. But he was also a very good point guard. He ranks sixth all-time at Xavier in scoring and averaged 4.1 assists per game during his career.
SG - Byron Larkin
The all-time points leader at Xavier, Larkin averaged at least 20 points per game in three-straight seasons from 1985-88. He was also a solid three-point shooter, netting 37.8 percent of his shots from long range. He was an All-American honorable mention as a sophomore and junior and made the AP’s third team in 1988.
SF - Steve Thomas
Thomas may not fit the ideal small forward mold, but keeping his scoring touch off the floor would be a misstep. Thomas was a Basketball News First-Team All-American in 1964, a season in which he averaged a Xavier record 30 points per game. He also netted 45 points against Cincinnati that year and a school record 50 against Detroit. He ranks ninth in school history in scoring (23.6 PPG) despite not playing in the three-point era.
PF - David West
This is the easiest choice of them all. West is to Xavier what Kenyon Martin is to Cincinnati. West was named AP National Player of the Year in 2003 and ranks second all-time in points scored for the Musketeers (16.9 PPG). He also managed to average a double-double for his career (16.9, 10.4 RPG) and led Xavier in blocks in all four seasons he was on campus.
C - Tyrone Hill
Although technically a forward, we’ll put Hill and his rebounding prowess at center. He didn’t come close to Bob Pelkington’s program record of 21.8 rebounds per game, Hill has the first and second best rebounding average for a single season by a Musketeer since 1965. He could also score, ranking fourth in scoring at XU all-time.
B - Aaron Williams, Bob Pelkington, Romain Sato, James Posey, Dee Davis
Cincinnati’s Starting Five
PG - Nick Van Exel
Van Exel has been to more Final Fours than Xavier has as a program. He averaged 18.3 points and 4.5 assists per game in 1993 and even though he only played for two seasons in Clifton, he was easily the best point guard the team has had. Plus he did this.
SG - Sean Kilpatrick
Now doing big things in the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets, Kilpatrick was the pillar on which UC basketball was built from 2010 to 2014. He improved each year of his career and by the time everything was said and done, he was a scoring machine posting 20.6 points per game on his way to 2014 All-American honors.
SF - Oscar Robertson
As the man famous for averaging a triple-double in the NBA, the Big O could play any position on the floor, but we’ll put him at small forward for this exercise. Robertson is hands down the best player to ever lace ‘em up for either Cincinnati or Xavier. Full stop. A three-time consensus All-American, Robertson still holds the record for points (2,973) and rebounds (1,338) at UC.
PF - Danny Fortson
Fortson doesn’t get as much love as he might deserve, but I’m here to stop that. A consensus All-American in 1997, Forston averaged 21.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. His name can be found littered throughout UC’s record books and the renaissance the program enjoyed in the 1990s.
C - Kenyon Martin
After Robertson, this is the easiest pick. K-Mart was not as long a burn as Robertson, but his 1999-00 season is one of the best ever produced by a big man at the Division I level. He posted 18.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game, while earning 9.0 win shares. He led UC to a No. 1 national ranking for 12 weeks and was named the National Player of the Year.
B - Jack Twyman, Lloyd Batts, Paul Hogue, Steve Logan, Ron Bonham
If these two teams played now, well it would be difficult to pick a side with the different ages represented. If we assume each could play at their peak, I’d have to give the edge to the Bearcats. Xavier has plenty of scoring power on its side, but the Bearcats would be tough on the interior and tenacious in the backcourt. Plus, while UC can match Martin with West and Fortson with Hill, the X has no answer for the Big O.