Xavier announced today that Travis Steele has been promoted from Associate Head Coach to fill the Head Coach position left vacant by the departure of Chris Mack. Steele has been with the program for 10 seasons, coming in under Sean Miller before rising from Director of Basketball Operations to Associate Head Coach under Chris Mack.
Steele is widely regarded as an excellent recruiter, having been instrumental in constructing Xavier’s recent run of excellent recruiting classes. He is also purported to be a bit of an offensive genius, much in the vein of his predecessor.
At just 36, Steele is a basketball lifer. He started working with the Spiece/Indiana Adidas Elite AAU team at 19 years of age, moving from there to OSU as a graduate manager and Wabash Valley College as an assistant coach. He spent 2 seasons working as video coordinator and then assistant coach at Indiana University before coming over to Xavier for the ‘08-’09 season.
Steele’s hiring continues the wave of continuity that Xavier has been riding with their recent coaching hires. Thad Matta was the last coach the program hired from outside; Miller, Mack, and now Steele were all promoted from within. This familiarity with how the program has been rolling on a day-to-day basis should give Steele the ability to jump in without losing stride as the head man.
The challenges that face him are formidable. Besides the departures of seniors Trevon Bluiett, JP Macura, Sean O’Mara, and Kerem Kanter, he also has to work to retain the incoming recruiting class, keep players from transferring, and bring in a guy or two to shore up the depth chart. The recent departure of transfer Evan Boudreaux, who had committed to join Xavier from Dartmouth, just underlines the difficulty facing Steele.
The Musketeers haven’t missed on a hire since the school decided to make basketball its focus before most of the current generation of fans was born. Travis Steele has the pedigree and the resume to continue that winning tradition.