When it was announced a couple of weeks back that Arizona guard Kerr Kriisa was in the portal, it seemed like an almost foregone conclusion that he and Xavier were a match made in heaven. After all, it was Xavier head coach Sean Miller who brought Kriisa from Estonia to Arizona to play college ball. He did well in limited minutes under Miller and seemed to have a good working relationship with the head coach. After a couple of seasons under Tommy Lloyd, if he was leaving Arizona, it might well be to get back together with Sean Miller.
Except Kriisa committed today, and he did it one state over in West Virginia and old Xavier nemesis Bob Huggins.
There are a lot of potential explanations here. Maybe Kriisa thinks his defense is the only thing keeping him out of the league and a crash course in guarding under Huggins is the way to go. Maybe he craves that sweet, sweet Big 12 action. Or maybe Huggins just outrecruited Miller.
There's another, significantly more troubling rumor floating around though, and that's that Kriisa landed a big NIL bag. Numbers are being bandied about Twitter in the range of half a million dollars, which is objectively a lot of money and would be hard for a college kid to turn down.
Before we go any further, I just want to make it clear that I have no problems with kids getting whatever someone thinks they're worth. If Alaska Fairbanks had offered me half a million when I was in college, you'd have seen me suiting up for the Nanooks in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play.
My concern is for how this will impact Xavier, especially in the short term. Miller showed up and immediately put Xavier back on the tracks, but most of the key players from this year's team are either gone or still in limbo. Despite the talent level of the recruiting class, there is a clear need to add some veteran firepower to keep from taking a step back.
Kriisa seemed like a perfect fit from the outside looking in, but maybe it never was and NIL has nothing to do with it. Maybe he would have loved to play under Miller again but not as much as he would love to have 500 grand.
What is clear is that Xavier has a vacuum at the top of the depth chart, and the process for filling that in the current climate is different than it has ever been.