There are plenty of questions to ruminate on between now and early November for the introspective Xavier fan to mull over, but the biggest one by far is that of where Jalen Reynolds's future will take him. Jalen has a year of eligibility left and will graduate this semester, so he theoretically has three options: finish out his career at Xavier, enroll in a graduate program to play at a different school, or hire an agent and go pro either in the NBA/NBDL or abroad. Realistically though, he's not going to grad transfer. That leaves just two options: stick it out at Xavier, or go make some money.
The case for staying
This boils down to one thing: unfinished business. When Jalen committed to Xavier, he said he wanted to help take the Musketeers to the Final Four. He hasn't yet. When he looks at the roster for the 2016-2017 team, he should see that a great team that underperformed in the tournament only lost two players from a rotation that sometimes ran nine or ten guys deep. To mitigate those losses, Xavier brings in a veteran big who is a like-for-like replacement for James Farr and a three-man recruiting class of four-star guys. Add in the anticipated development from the returning players and you've got the basis of a special team.
There's also personal development to consider. When you look at the raw tools Jalen came to campus with, you would hope to see those turned into a refined skill set. By and large, you haven't. Most of his game is still based on overpowering opponents with his sheer physicality or outworking them to get to 50/50 balls on the glass. There's something to be said for that, but you don't see the buffet of moves and counters that you would hope a big man would develop in three seasons of playing ball at the D1 level.
The case for going
Money. Jalen has a leg up on most of his peers financially in that he'll be graduating without any debt, but his current career path is one that has a very limited peak earnings window, and he's already getting really close to being in it. Even if he doesn't make an NBA roster or even get a D-League invite, he's probably turning down six figures in Europe somewhere to come back to Xavier. If he chooses to play out his eligibility, he'll leave school at age 24, a full six years after he left high school. Aside from Tom Callahan, Jr., not many people want to wait that long to start making money.
There's also personal development to consider. When you look at the raw tools Jalen came to campus with, you would hope to see those turned into a refined skill set. By and large, you haven't. If this is where he is now, is it clear at all that another year on campus is going to boost his professional stock? He has been trending very gently upwards as a college player; it's hard to see him suddenly leaping to the level at which he would be a meaningful prospect for a first round pick (and the concomitant guaranteed contract) as a 24-year-old senior.
Calling this "the verdict" seems so officious, like I'm about to drop some insider knowledge that isn't fairly reasonable to anyone who has been paying attention. Basically, I think the obvious move for Jalen is to spread his wings and leap from the nest. His career got off to kind of a false start thanks to the NCAA's arcane standards and practices, and it certainly hasn't developed to the ceiling we hoped it would have. For all that though, he has given us some good times here at Xavier. If he comes back for his senior season, I think it will be on the basis of an emotional decision rather than a purely intellectual one.