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Xavier 2017-18 Player Preview: Naji Marshall

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Naji Marshall may not be the headline of Xavier’s recruiting class, but he’s a large part of it.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Maryland vs Xavier
This is not Naji Marshall.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Naji Marshall is a wing. I say that because simply looking at him wouldn’t necessarily lead you to that conclusion. Marshall stands 6-6 and weighs in, according to Xavier, at 214 pounds. The Musketeers will play teams this year who line up a power forward of that size. Xavier’s own Trevon Bluiett has started consistently at the four and didn’t sport the college ready body that coming in that Marshall does as a freshman.

Last season Marshall played for the Hargrave Military Academy. While at Hargrave, he averaged 20/11/3. Marshall’s shooting line isn’t available, but early indications are that he can get to the rim and finish there, but lacks the polish from behind the arc that some of his incoming classmates have. What Marshall can do is defend multiple positions because of his combination of strength and quickness, and occasionally function as something of an auxiliary point guard. Fran Frischilla and other analysts on Twitter see Marshall as a matchup problem for teams concerned with watching Bluiett and Macura behind the arc.

Best case scenario:

Naji shows up on campus and immediately starts scoring. He’s tough, he’s big bodied, and he can finish in the lane. Those talents all play regardless of level. If Marshall shoots just enough that he can make some space to attack off the bounce, he will be the matchup nightmare that Frischilla expects him to be. The size and muscle that Marshall brings will prevent him from hitting a freshman wall. Best case, he’s a starter come conference play.

Worst case scenario:

The Big East is relentless in exploiting flaws. If Marshall can’t shoot enough to keep defenses honest, he’s not explosively quick enough to drive when a defender can sag off him. He’s a good rebounder and a good defender, but Xavier has talent in droves. The athleticism will keep him on the floor, but if a shot doesn’t develop, he’s a low end rotation player when the rubber meets the road.

Most likely scenario:

This guy is the real deal. You don’t land as an ESPN top 100 recruit if you can’t play ball. The shot won’t always be there, but it will be there enough that teams will have to account for it. Marshall is going to shine for Xavier this year.