From Rashid Bey and Marvin O’Connor to Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, to the current backcourt tandem of Erik Reynolds II and Lynn Greer III, Saint Joseph’s has long been known for its guard play.
So much so, that fans, media, and coaches alike have coined the term “Hawk Hill guard” to represent the tenacity of a Philadelphia tough ball-handler playing for St. Joe’s.
Next in line to carry on that Hawk Hill guard lineage is freshman Xzayvier Brown, a Philadelphia native, who committed to SJU over offers from USC, Marquette, VCU and Drexel.
According to head coach Billy Lange, he’s already showing that same tenacity and toughness.
“Brown is physically tougher than anybody gave him credit for,” Lange said. “He’s crafty. He’s smart. He’s unselfish, and he’s a gamer. He’s a classic point guard, and not only a Hawk Hill guard but he’s a Philly guard.”
It should be no surprise that Brown, the stepson of SJU associate head coach Justin Scott, has emerged given the program’s knack for developing guard talent.
And that emergence has been critical to the Hawks success, sitting 10-3 with Brown averaging 11.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 2.8 APG. He is the team’s third-leading scoring while coming off the bench.
Brown exploded onto the scene early with a career-high 21 points, five rebounds and four assists to secure a 100-56 win over Stonehill in the team’s third contest of the season.
Six days later, the Hawks traveled to Rupp Arena for a matchup with No. 17 Kentucky. Brown contributed 17 points, six assists and three steals as the Wildcats escaped an upset in OT.
Brown came off the bench and was St. Joe’s second-leading scorer with a 16-point effort to defeat No. 18 Villanova in his first introduction to the Philadelphia Holy War.
After scoring a game-high 20 against American, Brown contributed 10 points, five boards and three assists to help SJU down undefeated Princeton, and the nation finally took notice.
Brown was awarded Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Week on Dec. 11 and was later selected as an honorable mention in John Fanta’s top-10 freshman in college basketball this season.
Behind a veteran backcourt of Reynolds, Greer, and Cameron Brown, Lange said Xzayvier’s early development has been exponential having the opportunity to learn from some of the best mid-major guards in the country.
“[Reynolds, Greer, and Brown] give him confidence,” Lange said. “Those guys provide great veteran leadership, communication, and love, and it’s helping [Xzayvier] along the way. Their experience gives him so much confidence.”
For Brown, having the chance to represent his home city and carry on that Hawk Hill guard lineage has been a challenge he’s grown into throughout the early season.
“To me, the program’s development [within the city] is just one day at a time, one year at a time, one season at a time,” Lange said. “I’m aware of having great [players] that accept that type of ambassadorship, but I don’t really ask them if it’s a big deal. Having been from the [Philadelphia] area, I understand that it is [a big deal] and I think [Brown] just likes representing St. Joe’s.”