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The Chris Mack recruiting map: Ohio

Yes, it's Xavier's home state. No, it's not the state they've had the most success recruiting.

I haven't gotten to use a picture of Semaj for a while.
I haven't gotten to use a picture of Semaj for a while.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

In which state of the union is Xavier located? If you answered Ohio, you're correct! If you answered Louisiana, you're also technically correct but probably not part of this site's target demographic. Google informs me Xavier University of Louisiana's mascot is called Gold Digga though, so there's that. I've already gotten off track; Xavier (OH) has recruited well in OH under Coach Mack.

Erik Stenger 55 8 440 84 100 8 1.5 1.8 0.1
Griffin McKenzie 28 67 16 14 3 0.6 0.5 0.1
Matt Stainbrook 70 68 1794 805 501 160 11.5 7.2 2.3
Semaj Christon 64 63 2228 1034 177 281 16.2 2.8 4.4
Ohio totals 217 139 4529 1939 792 452 8.9 3.6 2.1

That is an interesting assortment of names. Let's start with Griffin McKenzie, a 6'8" stretch four who came out of high school with the reputation of a big man who could shoot the ball well from deep. He was billed as a bit soft but an excellent catch and shoot scorer with the frame to become a real asset. Xavier beat Wake Forest, Ga Tech, and Northwestern to his signature.

McKenzie's story is kind of a sad one. He was beaten unconscious by Jonathan Spatz while trying to defuse a fight at a party before his freshman year at X. After a season at Xavier, he transferred to Denver where he played out his eligibility. McKenzie ended with 24 career points.

Erik Stenger came to Xavier as a walk-on after spending two years at Northern Kentucky. He was an energetic and athletic forward for the Norse, playing 58 games in two years before leaving. Recruiting is a pretty broad term to take here; Stenger wanted a place close to his home (Cinci) with a good basketball program and good academics. He more or less landed in X's lap, but we'll take it.

After his redshirt year, Stenger was surprised with a scholarship offer from Coach Mack. His game at Xavier was built entirely on hustle and effort, and he even fought his way into the starting lineup a handful of times. Despite losing time to a stomach ailment as a senior, Stenger carved out a valuable role on a roster that was rapidly reloading.

Everyone knows the Matt Stainbrook story, right? Recruiting of Stainbrook out of high school was light, primarily because he wasn't. After two years of up and down play, up and up weight, and disagreements with the staff left him without a scholarship, he signed at Xavier over Wright State and Bradley. A guy who would be All-Big East almost signed with Wright State or Bradley.

He spent a year learning how to tie bowties and avoid bowtie pasta before taking the court by storm for the Muskies. Sometimes recruiting is signing the guy that everybody else also wants; sometimes it's finding the hidden gem inside the guy that nobody else wants. Coach Mack challenged Stainbrook to shape up physically and mentally and both Mack and Matt were rewarded from the work put in.

Semaj Christon makes it an even 4-for-4 on Ohio guys Mack has brought in who did not spend four years at X. That's not an indictment, merely an observation. Scouting reports had Christon as a bouncy guard with good handle and excellent speed in full- and half-court. His limitations were reported as an inability to go left and a tendency to try to do too much at times. Xavier beat UC, Georgetown, and Providence to sign him.

The scouting reports were right: Semaj loved to go right and occasionally had his reach exceed his grasp, right up to his seven turnovers in his final college game. in the meantime though, he treated Xavier fans to plenty of moments of Semagic, whether it was providing something worth watching in his at times dismal 17-14 freshman season or providing a high-major caliber athlete in the first year in the Big East. My personal favorite came when he picked Bryce Cotton's pocket twice in the final minute of Xavier's win over Providence, but I'm sure you each had your own. His decision to jump to the draft was disappointing but understandable.

Ohio has provided four players for Coach Mack, none of whom were four-year guys. Only McKenzie signed out of high school, and his career was derailed before it began through no fault of his own. Stenger was a classic high-energy guy off the bench, and Semaj and especially Stainbrook will be remembered extremely fondly by Xavier fans. Not a bad showing for the home state.