Opinion: Marshall, freshmen will produce for Xavier

Photo courtesy of Twitter | Freshman forward Naji Marshall had an impressive showing in Xavier’s exhibition game against Thomas More last week, scoring 16 points.

While the current 2018 recruiting has been small for the Musketeers, the freshmen who are about to take the court for Xavier make up one of the best recruiting classes in school history.

Consistently ranked as one of the top groups in the country, the 2017 class has a chance to build on some extraordinary achievements throughout the last few years. Two members of the 2017 class are not on the team. Kentrevious Jones did not qualify academically and is not currently attending Xavier, and Jared Ridder recently transferred to Missouri State. As a result, the class is down to three members, but they are still highly touted and extremely talented.

The most heralded of the three recruits is Paul Scruggs, a four-star recruit from Indianapolis who was ranked 29th nationally by 24/7 Sports. Scruggs played three seasons in Indiana at Southport High School before he transferred to Prolific Prep in California for his senior season. He was limited to only five games at the basketball powerhouse on the west coast before shutting down his season in December. Scruggs, a 6’3,” 207-pound guard, is a physically imposing figure who knows how to control the floor and distribute as a true point guard. Look for him to be aggressive and use his athleticism to attack the basket and create opportunities.

Naji Marshall, a consensus four-star recruit from Greenbelt, Md., who graduated from the same high school as David West and Stanley Burrell, brings a wealth of versatility to this Xavier team. Listed at 6’7” and 218 pounds, he has strong ball-handling skills and an ability to score both down low and from the outside. On the defensive end, he has the quickness to guard wings if necessary and post threats more often. As exemplified in the exhibition game against Thomas More, Marshall can power his way to the rim but use that deft touch to shoot the long ball. He is extremely athletic, and early reports say he performed very well in the preseason.

The third and final member of the group is Elias Harden, a 6’5,” 187-pound guard from Georgia. Harden was a three-star recruit, but he finished ranked 28th among all shooting guards in his class.

He shoots the ball well, especially under pressure, and can drive the lane when necessary. He will have to fight for minutes this year among a stacked backcourt that includes Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura, but he is loaded with potential.

Overall, this is a class that can bolster Xavier’s already-talented roster. It’s built to help this team win here and now.

By: Paul Fritschner ~Staff Writer~