Are We Moving in Another Direction?

People who follow Xavier news closely during the summer probably saw the recent article from ESPN tabbing Semaj Christon as one of the year's breakout performers. ESPN's Reggie Rankin said that Christon has size, speed, quickness, athletic ability, and skill. What really caught my eye, though, was that he said that Christon should show up on campus ready "to have an immediate impact for the Musketeers from Day 1." Similarly, Dez Wells has been touted all over the internet as a player who is college-ready and could make an immediate impact. Before the little issue with his transcript, Justin Martin was an ESPN100 guard whose offense was supposed to be a factor from the word go.

If you look across the Xavier landscape, it's not hard to see this as a deviation from form. Current star Tu Holloway came in as well-regarded but raw, and the role his work ethic has played in transforming him into the player he is now has been widely noted. Going back a "generation" of players, you see stars (in the relative, if not absolute, sense) such as BJ Raymond, Josh Duncan, Justin Doellman, Justin Cage, and others show up on campus and take their time to grow into the game.

Thanks to the good folks at StatSheet.com (ESPN's data only goes back to 2001-2002), you can see that both David West and Romain Sato came into college and had immediate and serious impact. West had a year of post-grad work at Hargrave Military Academy, as did fellow instant-impact freshman Stan Burrell. Now Xavier has Wells coming out of Hargrave, as well as Christon, Jalen Reynolds, and likely Sim Bhullar getting a year of prep school before showing up on campus with high expectations.

I don't really have a conclusion here; it's more that I'm left with the same question. The careers of Big Kenny, Jason Love, Tu, Cheek, and other current and recent Muskies show player who came in with some limitations and developed into impact guys. Now Xavier has a fresh crop of players coming in who are expected to be impact guys from the word go. Does this represent a change in recruiting philosophy, or just Coach Mack being opportunistic? Or is Xavier maybe taking another step towards the absolute peak of recruiting sway, where five-star, NBA-caliber players are lining up at the door every year? Or am I just over-estimating the next couple of recruiting classes, or maybe I've misjudged the situation entirely? I'm curious to see where you all stand on this.

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