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The Waiting Game

As college basketball spins wildly, Xavier fans wait for a move

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at Xavier Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Hurry up and wait. Xavier Nation has had some ups and downs this offseason. CJ Wilcher, Danny Ramsey, and Kyky Tandy are gone to the transfer portal. Bryan Griffin and Jason Carter joined them, but in a normal year both would have been done anyway. Nate Johnson has returned in what can only be seen as a huge boost to a team that destroyed Oklahoma with him and lost to Butler without him. Xavier’s incoming class hasn’t changed (yet) and is still comprised of Cesare Edwards and Elijah Tucker. With more spots open there, though, it’s hard to imagine the coaching staff isn’t out looking for talent to add.

Speaking of the coaching staff, it has changed as well. Matthew Graves won’t be at Coach Steele’s side this season as he has taken the next step toward becoming a head man himself. Ben Johnson has completed that journey and is taking over a high major where he has already demonstrated he can recruit. It will be more of a surprise of he doesn’t turn Minnesota into a consistent NCAA tournament team than if he does.

The big piece remains Paul Scruggs. In a normal year, Scruggs would be gone. He would have graduated and moved on, leaving behind a legacy as a hardnosed player who developed into a legitimate point guard. There is, as yet, no real reason to think that won’t be what happens as the tournament winds down and rosters start to set. Beyond some rumors swirling on Twitter, nothing that the school or Scruggs himself has said indicates that he will come back for another year.

There’s an argument to be made that he shouldn’t. Scruggs has four good years on tape and is coming off a season where he lead the Big East in assists per game, had a 32% assist rate against a 18.5% turnover rate, shot the ball passingly well, had a 110 offensive efficiency, and played his usual no holds barred all effort defense. What does he have left to put on tape for the next level? Paul is also already 23 years old. By the time next NBA draft rolls around he will be considerably older than players who already have two or three years of experience.

For Xavier, though, Scruggs return would be a godsend. He and Johnson coming back lands the team in a projected top 35 from Bart Torvik without any other possible transfers joining. Scruggs could play the same role he did this year as Dwon Odom develops alongside him and Nate Johnson holds down the three spot as a shooter. Ben Stanley’s return also would Xavier a chance to go huge with Scruggs, Johnson, and Stanley playing in the backcourt.

For now, though, it is all just waiting and refreshing Twitter. Xavier will surely do something, but no one knows when. For our take on transfers, Scruggs, and the tournament, give a listen here: