By Joe Laurich, Staff Writer
After back-to-back successful recruiting classes, the 2021 class was predicted to be smaller, with a focus on forwards and centers. Xavier did just that, bringing in two bigs in Cesare Edwards and Elijah Tucker.
Xavier lost big men Jason Carter, Bryan Griffin and Daniel Ramsey from last season’s team and have already lost Big East first-teamer Zach Freemantle for the first few weeks of the season due to a stress fracture in his foot.
The 2021 recruiting process was a difficult one, as coaches had to do almost all of their scouting online since in-person recruiting was not allowed due to COVID-19. This also meant a lot of players had to decide where to spend their college careers without ever stepping on a college campus.
The class of Edwards and Tucker was ranked 53rd in the country by 247 Sports.
The first commit in the 2021 recruiting class was Cesare Edwards out of Hartsville, S.C., where he attended Hartsville High School.
Edwards is 6-foot-10 220 pounds and was ranked the 109th best player overall and the 16th best center in the class. Edwards chose Xavier over a list of other schools including Florida, Florida State, Clemson and others.
His ability to finish in the paint will immediately stand out.
Edwards also brings the ability to space the floor because of his strength from three-point range, where he shot 37% last season. His senior year at Hartsville, Edwards averaged 17.2 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, and three blocks per game.
Edwards has already put on 15 pounds since coming to Xavier and is looking to add more weight to compete against the Big East’s physical centers.
Recently on the Travis Steele Radio Show, Steele said Edwards could be looking like Marquette’s old bruising center Theo John by the end of his Xavier career. Look for Edwards to provide frontcourt depth off the bench for the Musketeers as he continues to develop on both sides of the ball.
The second commit in Xavier’s 2021 class was Elijah Tucker. Tucker is from Canton Ga., where he attended Cherokee High School. Tucker is 6-foot-7 and 214 pounds, and was ranked the 118th best overall player and the 23rd best power forward in the class.
He chose Xavier over St. Johns, Iowa and Georgia Tech. Tucker’s strengths include a very good midrange game, developing quickness and athleticism, the ability to defend at a very high level and an extremely high basketball IQ.
During his senior year at Cherokee, Tucker put up 21.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game along with 86 dunks in 28 games.
The Xavier coaches had high expectations for Tucker coming in after a tremendous senior year. Unfortunately, an illness kept him out of summer workouts, and he is now redshirting this season as a result.
Look for him to make an immediate impact playing next season as a redshirt freshman.