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.
If you pay more attention to my writing than I do, you know this is the same question that I asked about Elijah Tucker prior to last season. Some things have changed: the coach who brought Tucker in is gone now, Tucker has added some weight to a willowy frame, and he’s back healthy. Some things have not: there is still an absolute log jam at the four spot for Xavier, Tucker still has a skill set that plays, and the big man still remains untested in the Big East.
That’s perhaps an unfair amount of nutshelling, but it neatly encapsulates the problem facing Elijah Tucker. In front of him sit two preseason all Big East performers in Jack Nunge and Colby Jones. There’s also an all Big East second teamer (Zach Freemantle), an athletic jack of all trades who played 15 minutes per game last year in Jerome Hunter, and the late season story of last year, Cesare Edwards. That’s a lot of talent to push your way up through.
Tucker is talented, though. He wasn’t a highly rated four star recruit because he was incapable of beating out other players. In high school he was an absolute athletic freak who spent a lot of time dunking the ball. He added an outside shot to go with that bounce to make himself more of a problem to guard. Where Edwards is more a of a classic back to the basket big (who chucks the occasional three), Tucker profiles more as a face up scorer who can get his off the drive.
So where does that fit for Xavier? If Tucker can defend at a high level, he figures to bring more to the offense than Jerome Hunter did last season. When X goes small, Tucker brings athleticism that Freemantle or Nunge may not have. Simply put, he won’t be taking any time from Colby Jones. That leaves either a niche to try to fit in or a lot of work to do in order to crack double digit minutes.
Coach Sean Miller has said that he envisions the Musketeers starting the season with a ten man rotation that could shrink toward eight as the season reaches the pointy end. It’s not hard to see Tucker getting himself some time as part of the ten. Cracking that eight is going to be a tall order.