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Xavier adds more European talent

Sean Miller took a slightly different route to add talent to this squad.

U18 Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade v U18 Asvel Villeurbanne - EB Adidas Next Generation Tournament Photo by David Grau/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

I read somewhere that people only like summer because they still associate it with the time off they had when they were kids. Given the temperature recently, the fact it’s impossible to be outside without sweating, and the ongoing failure of the Guardians front office to do anything other than be abject, it’s hard not to agree with that conclusion. Summer is not fun.

Fall is though, and fall has basketball in it. (Soccer, too, for those excited about the start of that season last weekend.) Someone will be by tomorrow to recap what Xavier has been up to in a place that somehow figures to be even more warm than here, but right now we’re going to talk about a man who sweats even when it’s cold and his impact on recruitment.

Sean Miller had to rebuild the roster after last season. Gone are Souley Boum, Colby Jones, Jack Nunge, Adam Kunkel, Kyky Tandy, Dieonte Miles, and Cesare Edwards. Even if not all of those players were top talent or even rotation guys, they represent game minutes that have to be filled. At the top end, Xavier has to replace four starters, one of whom is on a guaranteed NBA contract and three more who were good enough to make summer league rosters and all of whom will play professionally.

Sean Miller exhausted the transfer portal and recruiting in an attempt to fill those slots, then he did something more unique to him: he went to Europe. Gytis Nemeiksa was his first add. Nemeiksa is a 6-8 wing/forward from Lithuania. He played club basketball there and is currently listed as a senior for Xavier. He made his debut in the Bahamas where he grabbed ten boards and knocked down a three in 16 minutes of playing time.

Nemeiksa is a thin kid, Xavier lists him at 203, but he had a knack for getting on the glass in Lithuania. He profiles as more of an inside scorer, but he can step out and knock down a three from time to time. He can score, and Xavier is going to need a lot of that to replace what they lost.

An even more recent addition to the Musketeers is Lazar Djokovic. Djokovic stands somewhere around 6-10 (reports vary based on the site) and profiles as a three level scorer who can create his own shot to some extent. According to Sports Illustrated “Djokovic has excellent physical tools for a wing, standing at 6-foot-8 [ed. note: see what I mean?] with long legs and arms, showing great speed to run the floor and the vertical explosiveness to finish at the rim with power. He also contributes as a floor-spacer and utilizes his tools to create defensive events both in the paint and in the perimeter.”

For Serbia’s U19s at the latest World Cup, Djokovic averaged 14.9/7.3/3.1 and impressed with his ability to defend multiple positions and his lateral quickness for a big man. He’ll join the team once he and they are back ensconced in the United States.

Xavier is back to being fully loaded. Sean Miller dipped into Europe, a thing he is fond of doing, and landed the players he needed to fill out his roster. All that remains is getting through the rest of summer and getting these back on the hardwood come October. There’s not much farther to go.