This is going to be a transitional year for Xavier basketball. To paraphrase former Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino (what ever happened to that guy?), Trevon Bluiett isn't walking through that door. Neither are JP Macura, Sean O'Mara, or Kerem Kanter, or the guy who coached and recruited them all.
To add to that, Xavier has lost grad transfer big Evan Boudreaux, who decommitted to go to Purdue, and has an incoming freshman class that looks to be devoid of immediate high-impact players.
Put plainly, depth will be an issue. As we have seen in years past at Xavier though, it's not an insurmountable one. Here are some early thoughts on what the Muskies will need to be relevant once again when March rolls around.
Naji and Q being ready to carry the load
Grad transfers - of which Xavier currently has three and might add another - can make an impact, but even the good ones usually need some time to get up to speed. Kyle Castlin (Columbia), Ryan Welage (San Jose State), and Zach Hankins (Ferris State) are all solid pieces, but they are all coming from levels the pale in comparison to the Big East. Naj and Q are Xavier's biggest returning guns; this is their time to shine.
Scruggernuts and Tyrique making the jump
Both of these guys are super talented but haven't had the chance to play a fully healthy season (see below). Xavier can't afford for either of these dudes to be passengers this season. Both of them have the ability to take over games, and X will need them to be viable, consistent options.
Travis Steele hitting the ground running
Organizations rise and fall on leadership, and Xavier's new leader has his work cut out for him. He has already taken up the load in recruiting, landing an impressive haul of transfers and getting a recommitment from Keonte Kennedy after he reopened his recruiting. Game management is another issue altogether, and Steele will need to learn on the fly to finesse together this roster.
It ultimately hinges here. If the Muskies are battling injuries all year, it's going to be a tough asked for them to make a tournament run. Paul Scruggs wasn't fully healthy last year after coming back from an offseason knee issue. Tyrique Jones missed time with various shoulder and leg problems. incoming transfer Kyle Castlin has a storied injury history, including a toe problem that cost him an entire year and set him up to grad transfer. Beyond all that, the nature of the game means anyone is susceptible to injury at any time. Xavier can ill afford that.
Continuity is huge in college basketball outside of the one and done factories, and Xavier is short on it this year. The talent will be there at Cintas this year; it's going to be up to Coach Steele and his staff to translate it into the level of success Muskie fans are used to.