Brad: So this week was, finally, all good news. We officially kept Mario, Matt Jennings, and Jeremy Growe, had a great press conference, and landed a solid big man. This was the week I, at least, needed as a Xavier fan.
Bryan: Keeping some infrastructure was really big, but Steele pretty much had a blinder of an introductory press conference. I would back that dude right now if Mack had taken the entire Cintas Center with him and we had to play our games outside. Jennings has proven to be one of the best at what he does, Mario is one of the best at what he does, and Growe is a bit more under the radar, but adds some more stability moving forward. I am ready for November again.
Joel: I think our number one priority in filling out the staff has to be someone to work with the big men. The development of Stainbrook, Farr, and O’Mara showed we had one of the best. If we want to get the best out of Jones, Walter, and Hankins, we need someone who can help develop them in that same way.
Bryan: Steele had his picture taken with David West, which is confirmation enough for me.
Brad: We talked last week about needing a coach for the bigs, but I agree that remains the top priority. What else would you like to see us add in the transfer market? (There’s a weird sentence in relation to college ball.) I’d like to see either backcourt depth or a wing scorer.
Joel: I think it depends on who you think Elias Harden is. Coach Steele seems to think he can defend, and he had the reputation of a knock down shooter coming out of high school. If he’s functional, we’ve got three guards for two spots and Scruggs and Q can split the point. If we can get some good minutes out of him, I think a guy who can handle the 3/4 is our top priority. If we pick up someone who can spell Kaiser and Naj, I think that’s solid. Unless you think Dontarius James is the answer there as a freshman, in which case I guess we’re golden.
Mary: I honestly thought Elias Harden might transfer after this year. He seemed out of favor with Mack, or at least that was my perspective, but I’m hoping Steele sees something in him that we just haven’t seen yet. Obviously he needs to be hitting the weight room heavy this off season. I’m kind of excited to see what he becomes. I think we really need him to be able to sustain a much bigger role next season.
Also more on Scruggs sharing the point with Q - one of Mack’s post game pressers near the end of the season (may have been after DePaul) seemed to insinuate that he thought Paul was capable of playing the 2 as well. He talked about not wanting to overload him as a freshman though. This would mean that he can spell Q at the 1 as well as play that true guard position. This only means something if Steele saw it the same way. I like Kaiser and Naji at that 3 spot, let Hankins play the 4 (Kaiser can also play this) and Jones at the 5. That gives us a lot of versatility I think.
Bryan: I think a perimeter scorer would be our biggest need right now, specifically someone who can stretch defenses by knocking down shots. As it stands, Kaiser is our only returner who shot over 35% from three and he ended the season in a massive slump. Q, Naji, and even Scruggernuts showed flashes, but I think we are thin on guys who will make teams think twice about packing it in on defense and daring us to beat them from three.
Brad: The top of our roster is still very good, what concerns me is the depth. With the caveat that recruit rankings are what they are, we aren’t bringing in anyone who is projected to be a stud. Keonte Kennedy could fit that outside shooting/scoring bill right now if he develops enough.
Joel: LATE BREAKING: Steele just added Columbia transfer Kyle Castlin. He’s a 6’4” guard who can really play at both ends and is immediately eligible. Dude is wasting no time.
Brad: He’s efficient, for sure, but he didn’t play very much until conference play thanks to a deep bone bruise in his elbow. He did go for 10/6/4 against Nova this year, and he’s a career 35% shooter from behind the arc and is nails from the line.