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Thinking through Xavier's roster situation

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The Musketeers have about six months until things really get rolling. What does the roster look like heading into the summer?

Coach Mack has some work to do, maybe.
Coach Mack has some work to do, maybe.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

This one is less about search engine optomized terms and more about trying to figure out what Xavier's roster situation on our way through the transfer season/April recruiting period is.

First, let's sort through what Xavier has lost. Yesterday the team announced that Makinde London has been released from his commitment to the school and will transfer to an institution closer to his home. Prior to that announcement, we all knew James Farr and Remy Abell were not coming back next year, what with being out of eligibility.

Further, both Trevon Bluiett and Jalen Reynolds have put their names into the NBA draft process. They have until ten days after the NBA combine to remove them and return to school, preserving their student-athlete status to compete as amateurs in an event that the NCAA will be paid almost $10 billion to put on for the next 16 years. NCAA hypocrisy aside, I haven't heard anything that makes me concerned Tre is actually leaving school, nor does it look like Jalen will be back to exhaust his eligibility. Split those two guys and we have 11 players on the active roster for next year.

That leaves Coach Mack and the staff with three options, which I'll discuss below:

Bring in a sit-out transfer

Xavier has been linked to a couple of these guys, most notably at this point D2 wing Max Strus. There are something on the order of 400 players on the transfer market right now who would have to sit out a year, so it's a target-rich environment for Coach Mack et al. The benefit here is that you can try to find the best dude out there, even if he doesn't fit into this coming year's depth chart. The draw back is that you're not really adding anything to this year's team by signing a player who will be forced to redshirt.

Add an immediately eligible player

There are a couple of routes you can go here: sign an incoming freshman or pick up an immediately eligble transfer. About the only top class of 2016 player Xavier was linked to that is still on the market is Brewster Academy big man Taurean Thompson. He's an ESPN100 four-star forward who can really play and has a lot of high-major interest, but I don't see where adding him is any less redundant to the current roster than keeping Makinde would have been. Even losing Farr, London, and ostensibly Reynolds from the front court, Xavier still has Gaston, Bluiett, O'Mara, Gates, Jones, and Ekiyor vying for 80 minutes at the 4/5, and not all of those minutes are going to traditional big men.

Turning to the grad transfers for a moment, there are some interesting names out there. USC's Katin Reinhardt could have maybe been a three and D guy for X, but he wanted the ball in his hands more and will likely get that at Marquette. The Muskies have also been linked to UNM guard Cullen Neal, a potentially big-time shooter who really needed a change of scenery. Neal has scheduled three visits, none of which are to X. Maybe that will change.

Even if it doesn't, there are more than 50 other grad transfers out there to choose from. For my dime, I think Xavier would be best served to add a guy who can defend on the wing and provide enough offense to not be a black hole, but maybe you're seeing this differently than I am. Let me know.

Go to war with these 11 dudes

This isn't a roster bereft of talent. Xavier lost a big chunk of last year's team, especially if Jalen goes, but you can look at the possible jumps from guys continuing to develop and throw in some production from the four freshly-eligible players and have a really strong roster to go forward with. Just for funsies, I punched up a little bit of a depth chart of what that might look like. For reserves, I just listed guys I could see getting minutes there in a regular game situation:

PG SG SF PF C
Starter Edmond Sumner Myles Davis JP Macura Trevon Bluiett RaShid Gaston
Reserves Larry Austin, Jr. JP Macura Kaiser Gates Kaiser Gates Sean O'Mara
Quentin Goodin Edmond Sumner Trevon Bluiett Tyrique Jones Eddie Ekiyor
Myles Davis Quentin Goodin Sean O'Mara
Eddie Ekiyor

As you can see, Xavier is looking for role players, not a guy who can come in and carry the team. If the Musketeers who show up in August are the 11 we have on the team right now, the situation isn't dire. Adding another good player in case of injury or to fill a role wouldn't be a bad thing, but I don't think adding to the roster - even if Jalen never comes back from the combine - is totally necessary.