Xavier and Travis Steele entered this season with a cupboard stripped beyond bare and an incoming class of exactly two players. While every new coach faces challenges in his first year, Steele faced the prospect of actually having to build a roster to then see what his challenges would be. To do that, Xavier hit the grad transfer market. Now, a season later, Zach Hankins has added himself to the list of Musketeer cult heroes, and Ryan Welage and Kyle Castlin each had moments where they kept a thin team afloat.
Next season, Steele won’t face quite the same hurdles. The incoming freshman class is both five deep and very, very good. While the triumvirate of transfers has to move on, Steele’s Core Four remain in place. Even more encouragingly, Xavier has already landed another team’s immediately eligible leading scorer. That leaves the Musketeers with one open slot and a handful of options.
Steele could look at the roster he has assembled, five freshman, Elias Harden, the Core Four, Jason Carter, and Dontarious James and decide that competition for playing time is going to be fierce enough as it is. Myles Hanson will also join the team as a walk on, albeit one who averaged 10 minutes per game for Columbia and brings more than the usual end of the bench mob. It’s possible that Steele doesn’t want to see any more talent go the way of Keonte Kennedy and simply goes with what he has. That’s already a much deeper squad than this season featured.
Not every player coming out of high school is spoken for at this point. Xavier, along with most of the Big Ten and Big 12 are still in on four star combo guard Harlond Beverly. Five star forward Matthew Hurt is still weighing offers from Xavier as well as Duke, Arizona, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Those are just two examples of players that could yet join this recruiting class. If Travis Steele feels confident in landing one of them, he may keep chasing them down rather than pursue other options.
Finally, Steele could go back to the grad transfer well. Danile Utomi from Akron is available as a high motor three and d small forward. James “Beetle” Bolden from West Virginia is an elite defender who would give Xavier something they’ve never had, a backup point guard for Quentin Goodin, and a career 39.9% three point shooter. Xavier has also contacted Thomas Allen from Nebraska, Nathan Sestina from Bucknell, and countless others in the transfer portal. Jason Carter is eligible for two years, but adding a grad transfer would like mean a one year rental player along the lines of Kerem Kanter and this year’s three.