We continue our recruit and return series with the Xavier Musketeers, whose season ended Sunday with a loss to Florida State. A look at what the 2018-19 season could hold for Chris Mack (maybe) and Xavier:
Possible 2018-19 starting five
G: Paul Scruggs
F: Kaiser Gates
Who is lost: Xavier will bid farewell to one of the greatest players in program history, as Trevon Bluiett has no eligibility remaining. Bluiett became a legitimate All-American during his time with the Musketeers and cemented his spot in Xavier lore due to his performance during the NCAA tournament last season. J.P. Macura, the enigmatic sidekick to Bluiett, is also gone. Up front, Sean O’Mara and Kerem Kanter have to be replaced. Kanter, in particular, became a go-to inside scorer over the course of the season. But the loss of any of them potentially could be overshadowed by a Chris Mack departure. The head coach is going to be one of the primary candidates for the Louisville job.
Who is added: Xavier isn’t bringing in the same kind of elite recruiting class it had last spring, but the Musketeers have a couple of contributors in the fold. Dartmouth graduate transfer Evan Boudreaux brings a different dimension to the Musketeers, as he averaged 17.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in the Ivy League while making 65 3-pointers over two seasons. Among the freshmen, look for Keonte Kennedy to get the most buzz. He had ACC and Big 12 schools in the mix, and Kennedy has the ability to make shots from the perimeter. Dontarius James and Jake Walter round out the newcomers.
What it means for next season: The losses of Bluiett and Macura will really hurt Xavier’s offense, especially early on, and especially when you add O’Mara and Kanter to that list. But it also provides a chance for Xavier’s returning freshman class to break out. Naji Marshall is a versatile playmaker on the wing who could shoulder a much bigger role next season. Paul Scruggs was highly touted coming out of high school and could form a two-headed point guard tandem alongside Quentin Goodin next season. Goodin is a difficult matchup for opposing point guards due to his strength and physicality. Up front, Xavier will need more consistency from Kaiser Gates, who could be a perfect stretch-four but has to bring toughness. Tyrique Jones is a terrific rebounder and will provide a good foil to Boudreaux and Gates in the frontcourt.
Trending: Neutral -- for now. Much of this depends on what happens with Mack. He’s going to be one of the primary candidates at Louisville, and it remains to be seen what Xavier would do if he left. As it stands, don’t expect Xavier to take a huge step back, and the Musketeers will likely be busy on the transfer market to fill some gaps.