With Chris Mack gone to Louisville, Xavier’s next coaching search is now complete after just four days. Travis Steele has been named the new coach and though a transition from Mack to Steele will be easier than other scenarios, it still won’t be easy.
On top of succeeding Mack, Xavier’s all-time wins leader, Steele will need to figure out how the team plans on playing next season after losing Trevon Bluiett, JP Macura, Sean O’Mara and Kerem Kanter.
Add in the fact Evan Boudreaux decommitted and already committed to Purdue, and the offense could struggle next year.
There are many items Steele must take care of, but the following three should be the highest priority.
Bring in a Solid Coaching Staff
There’s a reason the last three hires (Sean Miller, Mack and Steele) have been promoted from assistants to the head job. Xavier coaching staffs have been a key part of the program’s success over the last 30 years.
Luke Murray and Mike Pueges have followed Mack to Louisville, Matt Jennings is likely to follow and Mario Mercurio’s future is still up in the air. Steele will have his work cut out for him, and there’s little doubt filling out his staff will be among his top priorities.
Though who is on Steele’s list of potential staff is unclear, there are many possibilities, and Steele most likely make the correct decision.
Put Together Top-50 Recruiting Class
Xavier has had a string of solid recruiting classes, with Steele the primary recruiter for players such as Bluiett and freshman Paul Scruggs. The last recruiting class was plagued with near misses though, and several of Xavier’s top targets opted for other programs.
247 has all three of Xavier’s incoming freshman ranked outside the top 150. All three could very well contribute next season, but how well teams recruit tend to tell you how well a team performs.
A return to their place in the recruiting rankings is critical for Xavier to build on its current standing. With Steele’s recruiting history, this should be fairly obtainable. However, the fact he has no track record as a head coach could be used against him. I would still bet on Steele though, and a top class in 2019 could be critical to future success.
Be Active in the Transfer Market and Land a Top Grad Transfer
With Evan Boudreaux leaving for Purdue, Xavier would only have nine scholarship players on the roster if the season started today. There are plenty of roster spots open, and Steele should be actively looking to see if there any grad transfers could help.
There is a large scoring void left by this senior class, and right now it is not clear who will step up and fill it. Adding a grad transfer, especially an offensive minded one, could be a huge boost to the roster next season.
In addition to looking for immediate help, Steele will also be likely looking a players who will have to sit out a season. He is reportedly recruiting Syracuse transfer Matthew Moyer hard, and was the first to contact the family.
Accomplishing all of these will mean a successful offseason for the new Xavier coach, and Steele should be able to get it done.