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Xavier 2018-19 Player Preview: Elias Harden

Xavier lost 225 made threes from last year’s team; is Elias Harden ready to step into that void?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Nashville Practice
I’m ready for this guy to be a star.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the personnel portion of our 2018-19 season preview. We will be running down the players and coach who will represent the Musketeers this season and try to retain the Big East crown. We hope this helps you know what to expect for the upcoming year and, as always, enhances your experience following Xavier basketball this season!

Xavier knocked down 274 three-pointers last year. Departing players Trevon Bluiett, Kaiser Gates, JP Macura, and Kerem Kanter accounted for 225 of those. Obviously, there’s a void to be filled there. Meanwhile, Elias Harden showed up on campus last year with a reputation as a big-time shooter but finished the year with just one more made three than I had. Now he has added a reported 20 pounds of muscle to his lanky frame and isn’t battling such a crowded depth chart. Is this going to be his breakout season?

Best case scenario:

With long arms, increased strength, and defensive potential already drawing rave reviews from Coach Steele, Harden emerges as a second-unit Naji Marshall. His jumper shows to be the weapon we anticipated when he came onto campus, and he steps into a big role as a shooter as the season goes on, with the occasional game where he goes full Tre Campbell.

Worst case scenario:

Like Brandon Randolph before him, Eli never finds his feet at this level of competition. The next guy coming for your minutes is always just a step behind, and Keonte Kennedy this year and a potential six-man class next season ultimately squeezes Harden out after two lackluster seasons at Xavier.

Most likely scenario:

Quentin Goodin, Paul Scruggs, and Kyle Castlin all are ahead of Harden in line for minutes at the guard positions, but Harden’s versatility allows him to see some time at the three as well. He runs hot and cold, like any shooter not getting consistent looks would, but shows out from time to time and has enough secondary skills to stay on the floor when the jumper isn’t falling. He provides useful depth on a Xavier roster that comes into the season looking a bit top-heavy.