By Andy Mac Williams, 8/20/2019

Xavier checked all the boxes and sucked maximum marrow out of their early August junket to Spain. XU won all three games vs Spanish pros handily. The competition wasn't as stiff as I'd expected(no Ricky Rubio), but much better than Seton Hall squashed in Italy and DePaul disposed of in France and Georgetown toyed w/ at Atlantis in the Bahamas. Creighton ventured to Australia and won 4 times That's kind of impressive.


Travis Steele mixed and matched the Core 4 with the 2 grad transfers and 4 available freshmen. Minutes were spread around liberally. Naji Marshall averaged 19PPG in about 20 minutes/game. He did anything he wanted including knocking down "threes" at 40% and powering his way to the rim at will.

Tyrique Jones scored 14PPG-cleaned the glass and led vocally. "Q" played w/ a nasty edge and embraced the role of Senior PG. Gooden did lead Xavier to an Elite 8(2017) and an NCAA #1 Seed(2018) and overcame a serious shoulder injury to play his best late in 2019. Any thought that he will not start is sort of bizarre.

Paul Scruggs dominated when he wanted to. Here's a guy who averaged 15PPG-6 boards and 4 assists over XU's final 5 games in 2019 and may be their best NBA prospect. Let's not get too picky about reach-in fouls and turnovers 2 and a half months before the Opener(November 5th-Jacksonville at Cintas).

The CORE 4 are the "knowns". They know what it takes to get BIG EAST ready. They know what's at stake for their futures tied to TEAM 98 and they know helping to incorporate the new guys ASAP will benefit everybody.

Quantity(40 minute games) was a necessary evil last season w/ limited depth. Quality(28-34 minutes??) is TEAM 98's goal. Less is more! More in terms of speed and depth and size and line-up flexibility.


Both Jason Carter(Ohio U) and Brice Moore(Western Michigan) IMHO are exactly as advertised. Carter fits in perfectly as the probable regular PF w/ a bonus 2 years of XU eligibility(16PPG-7 Rebounds at OU). He hits the glass-handles in the open floor and can score inside and out.

Moore looks like an NFL corner back and relishes face guarding enemy PGs and picking up full court. His 3 point shot is quick and lethal. Make it an experienced CORE 6 for Xavier!!

Freshmen get overhyped sometimes and tend to be inconsistent. XU may have a special group here.

BIG Zach Freemantle is very advanced physically and in basketball savvy. He started 3 seasons in the very talent rich North Jersey area. Zach may be the first BIG off the bench. He's learning both PF and Center spots. He averaged 11PPG and 5 boards on the trip to Spain(14-18 FG) and competed very hard defensively-on the glass and going after loose balls.

Xavier should have at least a 3 man BIG rotation. Don't red shirt 6-11 Walton Verona HS product Deionte Miles too quickly! He's a very mobile BIG-long fast learning quickly. Miles is a rim protector and a rim runner w/ a nice lefty shooting touch.

BIG EAST size is expanding. Seton Hall has two 7 footers plus Sandro Mamu. Villanova has added a 5 star BIG Frosh. Georgetown has a 6-11 NC State transfer plus Joch Leblanc and a couple young 6-9 guts w/ Ewing and Louie Orr to teach them. Miles may be too valuable right now to red shirt.

Don't forget more bulky BIG Daniel Ramsey(6-9 233). His sore knees have slowed him sofar, but he has time to get up to speed.

Frosh guards KyKy Tandy and Dahmir Bishop should play immediately. Tandy is an attacking change of pace PG who drilled 4 three pointers in Spain game #2. He is learning the defense and has ball stopping quickness to go w/ his well chronicled driving and dunking skills. Bishop is a wing w/ the length to slip to SF. His shooting touch is sweet and he's far from shy about hoisting shots. If he can learn the defense, he will play IMHO. Long Philly guards are special and Dahmir is from Philadelphia.


After 10 practices and 3 games in Spain, Travis is backing off team on-court work until classes are well underway(after Labor Day). Conditioning and weight lifting continues.

Full preseason practice begins in late September w/32 workouts allowed before November 5th and the JU Dolphins(No Artis Gilmore nor Pembroke Burroughs nor Rex Morgan though). Jacksonville stars from their Final 4 in 1970.

Three 2020 recruits have committed(PG Dwon Odom, Wing C.J. Wilcher and SF Colby Jones). X plans to add a BIG stretch 4 type and Ben Carlson seems to be target #1 w/ an official visit shortly.That would complete a second straight strong class for the coaches.

Muskie Madness is October 18th(Friday) at Cintas. There's the always hush-hush secret NCAA D-1 scrimmage and the NCAA D-2 Exhibition Game. The regular season BIG EAST 18 game home and home schedule usually comes out right after Labor Day.

We'll keep you updated frequently on my Twitter feed at @mm_andymac and here on More BIG EAST news later this week.

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