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Will Elijah Tucker be able to crack Xavier’s rotation?

Tucker is unquestionably talented, but Xavier is very deep in the frontcourt.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Marquette
Coach Steele has landed another impact player.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Rather than a full on preview for each player on the roster this year we will be attempting to focus on one question that will determine how the player might fit on the team. The questions aren’t designed to carry either a positive or negative connotation, just really suss out how the roster is built. We’ll start with the freshman and build on to the players everyone knows. We know and you know the caveats that Covid brings, so this will be the only mention of it.

Elijah Tucker is called a power forward. Basketball has moved toward more numbering positions one through five or playing positionless basketball with similarly built players racing around the court. Once the grind of the Big East season comes along, though, the constant roiling fight under the basket means that the big men remain quite big. Power forward Elijah Tucker is trying to get up to 200 pounds.

That (relative) lack of girth from a guy who stands 6-7 is worth revisiting in a moment. Tucker, though, brings some serious game to Xavier’s frontcourt. He’s been described as a playmaking forward and his final year of high school he racked up 86 dunks. Tucker’s shooting was a concern in high school, but reports out of multiple camps this summer have said that he’s made himself a threat from the outside now as well.

Tucker is now a top 100 or 150 recruit from most major services, a demonstration of how his value has shot up this summer. His talent is unquestioned and his youth means he’s only going to get better. And therein lies the rub. Tucker is one of the youngest players in his class and Xavier is deep in the frontcourt. Zach Freemantle remains a sure piece there, with Ben Stanley, Jack Nunge, Dieonte Miles, Jerome Hunter, Colby Jones, and Cesare Edwards all competing for time there. It’s not as if stepping outside makes it easier for Tucker, as Xavier is loaded at guard as well. (This team should really be good.)

In an interview with 24/7 Sports Tucker said, “It just felt like home when I was on campus. It was important to me that I got to a school that can develop me, and I think Xavier can do that.” This speaks to the possibility that Tucker may be a redshirt candidate. He is the kind of player that certainly can help the team this season, but may want to take some time to fill out his frame and let the logjam under the basket clear a bit.

Elijah Tucker may yet need to add a bit or muscle to put the power in power forward. He’s also got an uphill battle ahead of him to make it in Xavier’s crowded frontcourt. His ability is suited to doing just that though. If he can show that he can take the beating, his explosiveness and newly developed outside shooting could make him a weapon off the bench for X this season.