We’re back! The summer was over. It was filled with two baseball teams that flattered to deceive, an excellent Women’s World Cup, and the oppressive humid heat that comes with Ohio in the summer. That’s all in the past now. College basketball, praise God, is back. With that comes your favorite (just go with it) brother-run Xavier site. The podcast will be back soon, but for now we’re jumping into previewing the team that will take the court for Xavier this year.
Xavier has an excellent incoming recruiting class. Most seasons the combination of Trey Green, Dailyn Swain, Reid Ducharme, and Kachi Nzeh would be a coup for any coach. This isn’t most seasons, though. Xavier is replacing their entire rotation save Des Claude and doesn’t even have any deep bench players returning. It’s a complete rebuild coming off a Sweet 16 run. Not since teams started five seniors has something like this happened.
A large part of that has been that expected returnees Jerome Hunter and Zach Freemantle have been ruled out for likely the entire season. That leaves the team both without veteran presence and without much of a frontcourt at all. Into that void has come a European intervention.
Braydan spilled some digital ink detailing how each of the incoming Euro bigs, Gytis Nemeiska, Lazar Djokovic, and Sasa Ciani. What none of those guys are is a big, imposing, Big East paint banger.
Enter Kachi Nzeh. His frame, at least, is that of someone who can add some power under the rim. He’s 6-9, 230 and appears to have been cut from rock. He’s a former track star who has fantastic athletic ability. Nzeh’s calling card on the court is his energy, rebounding, and ability to guard multiple positions. He is clearly regarded as more of a work in progress that his more heralded classmates, but his commitment to improving and clear investment in being a good teammate set him up well to be someone who follows a path well trod by Xavier bigs like Jason Love, James Farr, and countless others who carved out a meaningful four year career after coming in as a freshman with a smaller role.
And therein lies the rub. Nzeh isn’t a pure basketball talent like his maybe slightly more polished counterparts from across the pond. His shot is a work in progress without a great deal of range to it yet. He’s a freakish rebounder, but his touch can at times be lacking. In previous years he’d seem a great candidate for a redshirt and time to hone his skills and develop.
But this isn’t most seasons. Nzeh is a rim-runner and a monster in the open court. He’s strong, athletic, and has a wingspan over seven feet. Will that be enough to earn him some time despite his still developing game? On Xavier’s preseason trip he wasn’t the last big off the bench, but Logan Duncomb held that spot and he’s gone now. In a talented frontcourt scrambling to find some steel, Nzeh could earn rotation minutes. It’s a brave new world for Xavier. It may be one that includes their Pennsylvania big earlier than expected.