Once upon a time Xavier rode the waves of solid recruiting classes, and ebbed out with the tide when those guys left. That season has apparently come and gone, because X spent this week adding major pieces to a team that could be loaded already. In case you missed it, the Musketeers now have 2017 commitments from Jared Ridder, a three star forward who can really shoot it, Elias Harden, a big body guard who is an good shooter in his own right, and Naji Marshall, a four star, 6-6 wing who can create and play excellent defense. That in itself is a good class, but Coach Mack is still in on a good deal of high four players like Brandon Randolph and Quade Green.
So what does that mean in 2017? Well, Xavier is losing a lot even if no one (Edmond Sumner) goes early. Myles Davis, RaShid Gaston, and Malcolm Bernard are all done after this year. For the sake of simplicity, we'll assume that both Sumner and Trevon Bluiett stay for one more year. That presents a backcourt of Sumner, Macura, Harden, Quentin Goodin, and Marshall, plus whoever else may come in. In the frontcourt Coach Mack has Eddie Ekiyor, Sean O'Mara, Kaiser Gates, Bluiett, Ridder, and Tyrique Jones.
That team, even without the two more players that will be added, is on the verge of elite. Replacing Myles Davis leadership won't be easy, but both Sumner and Bluiett have shown flashes of it, and JP brings the same competitive fire. For confirmation of that, ask Butler fans. This is, of course, best case scenario. A year ago some fans may have penciled Makinde London into that swing four spot or thought for sure Jalen Reynolds would give us another year. Maybe some felt that LAJ would have stepped into the point guard role by now. The point is that things can change over the course of a basketball season, and that makes these roster projections hard.
What is less difficult is feeling optimistic about Xavier going forward. The way to replace sudden departures and NBA caliber players leaving is by having talent in depth. That's exactly what this week has been about for the Musketeers. Naji Marshall is someone that scouts agree is a big time offensive talent and Xavier targeted him and landed him. When the program is doing things like that, and still holds two open slots for 2017, it's hard to feel anything but good.