By Joe Laurich, Staff Writer
Looking forward to the class of 2022, Travis Steele and staff have already added two players in Kam Craft and Tyrell Ward — and potentially a third that Steele hinted at during his weekly radio show.
Leaving the team next year are guards Paul Scruggs and Nate Johnson for sure.It’s possible Adam Kunkel and Ben Stanley join them, depending on whether they want to stay and use their extra year of COVID-19 eligibility.
One theme that really stands out with this class is versatility; the coaching staff is taking a Jay Wright-esque approach and moving towards positionless basketball.
These recruits are tall and athletic enough to play any position 1-4 offensively and not have any problem on the defensive end. Steele expects to have three recruits committed in the early signing period in two weeks, so be on the lookout for one more player to join an already-illustrious class.
The first recruit who pledged to the Musketeers was Kam Craft out of Buffalo Grove, Ill. The 6’5”, 180-pound guard is ranked 87th in the class of 2022, but expect that ranking to shoot way up after the way he has been playing for The Skill Factory so far this season.
Craft played for Buffalo Grove High School his junior year where he averaged 27 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals per game while shooting 41% from three. Craft is known for his extremely good three-point shooting, his basketball IQ, and his ability to run in transition.
Over the summer at the Peach Jam, the biggest Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) tournament of the year, Kraft averaged 20 points and six rebounds against the top high school players in the country.
After his AAU season, Craft transferred to The Skill Factory where he is playing for former Xavier Director of Basketball Operations Trey Scotti. Expect a big senior season out of Craft as he cements himself as one of the best shooters in the class.
The next player to commit to Xavier was Tyrell Ward, out of one of the top basketball high schools in the country, DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md. Ward is a player that can truly do it all, and at 6’7” and 185 pounds, he has the handles to run the point (which he did during the AAU season) and play the 4 with his noticeable athleticism.
Ward is ranked 48th overall by 247 and chose Xavier over top college programs like Indiana, Louisville, and Virginia. Ward’s ability to drive is what sets him apart from other players, and as his confidence in his shot grows, so will his ranking.
At Peach Jam, playing for Boo Williams, Ward put up 23.2 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. He also played phenomenal defense against some of the best offensive high school players. Look for Ward to add some more muscle to his wiry frame and become an even more dominant all-around player.
During Steele’s weekly radio show on Monday night, he talked about the recruitment of Desmond Claude.
Claude is a guard out of Oakdale, Conn. whom Xavier has been recruiting hard since the summer. He’s the only recruit Xavier has a serious chance with in the 2022 class, and Steele seemed confident about Xavier’s chances to nab him and add to Xavier’s guard depth.