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Four things Coach Mack's approach to transfers tells us

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What can we learn from the veterans that Xavier is looking to bring in via the transfer market?

Coach Mack is lousy at keeping secrets.
Coach Mack is lousy at keeping secrets.
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

What are the biggest gaps in Xavier's roster right now? The Musketeers have two open scholarships to play with to fill those holes. We all know what the Musketeers lost from last season's Sweet 16 squad: a pass-first point guard and an elite, versatile big man. Maybe you'd prefer to bring in a player of one of those skill sets.

Or maybe you look at Xavier's roster and see what the team figures to do well (score) or poorly (play man defense) and decide to bring in someone based on those limitations. If there's a certain position you think has the least depth, you'd obviously target that area.

Coach Mack has hosted or is scheduled to host visits from three potential transfers this spring: Nick King, a 6'7", 225-pound forward from Memphis (though rumors of this visit are not confirmed); Junior Etou, a 6'7", 230-pound forward from Rutgers; and Jordan Caroline, a 6'7", 235-pound forward from Southern Illinois. Aside from a consistent five-pound increase in the weight of the player, it's clear that the man has a type.


Each of these guys plays a kind of undersized four role. None of them are particularly good outside shooters. All of them are athletic. All of them are at least decent defenders. They're all players whose usage rates had more to do with their situation than their skills last year. All of them get after it on the glass at both ends. All of them are bouncy and generally athletic.

So what does this tell us about how Coach Mack sees the team? Since he and I aren't really communicating on a first-name basis right now, I'm forced to speculate. To wit:

He is happy with the point guard position

This is quite possibly the biggest question mark on the roster for most Xavier fans. With Dee Davis having played the vast bulk of the meaningful minutes at point, the position is now left to the mostly untested Larry Austin, Jr. and the wholly untested (but ostensibly healthy) Edmond Sumner. Sumner's talent is unquestioned, and Austin looked confident if occasionally naive when on the ball last year. Apparently Coach Mack is seeing something in these two guys that tells him one or both of them is capable of running the team next season.

He believes we can score

Trevon Bluiett, Myles Davis, Jalen Reynolds, Remy Abell, JP Macura, and James Farr. That's a list of players who proved they were capable of scoring in double digits for Xavier last year. Sean O'Mara had 8 against Alabama, and Sumner and London both have impressive offensive potential and a year in the system under their belts. Looking at that assortment of talent, apparently Coach Mack feels comfortable not pursuing someone who needs to have the ball in his hands to provide value for the team.

He needs a stopper

This may be the biggest one. If a guard was tearing Xavier up, they always had the option of throwing Remy Abell at him. If the player was bigger than about 6'6" - or Remy was otherwise occupied - Xavier didn't really have a good answer for the problem. JP and Trevon are not quick enough to be solo defensive juggernauts, and Ed Sumner weighs about as much as my left leg. By pursuing these three guys, Coach Mack is sending the message that getting a player who can stop bigger scorers into the team is something that he thinks will pay dividends down the line.

He trusts this squad

None of the three guys in question has immediate eligibility. No matter how the process with them plays out going forward, they're not going to make an impact on the court in the coming season. Barring an 11th-hour move in the recruiting/transfer market, Coach Mack is going to war with the 11 eligible players on the roster. He's apparently okay with that.