It was a busy weekend for Xavier’s coaches as they hosted their annual high school team camp and had an important transfer on campus, but it all paid off for head coach Chris Mack and his staff in the end.
RaShid Gaston, a transfer from Norfolk State, committed to Mack and the Musketeers on Sunday, a day after returning from his visit to campus. A 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward, Gaston averaged 15.5 points and 9.6 rebounds in his junior season for the Spartans last year.
”Honestly I fell in love with the place,” Gaston said. “I like Coach Mack and his staff. They really care about their players, not only with basketball but after life too. I like the basketball aspect too – that’s why I’m coming there.”
Gaston will have to sit out the 2015-16 season per the NCAA transfer rules, and will then have one season of eligibility left in 2016-17. He chose Xavier after visiting Dayton and Wright State. He also received interest from South Florida, Florida State and others.
Gaston left Norfolk State in hopes of improving his game and increasing his exposure in hopes of continuing his career professionally. In that regard, the opportunity to work with big man Coach Mike Pegues, and the success that Xavier’s had developing big men really stood out to him.
“Just talking to Coach P(egues) and getting to see all the footwork that he can teach me, I think he can really develop my game even more,” he said. “I talked to Coach Mack and saw about all the players that have gone on to the NBA from Xavier, and especially the success they’ve had with guys in my situation who transfer in and only have a year or two – Xavier develops those guys. It’s just a winning program. Plus, Cincinnati isn’t too far away from Warren, Ohio, which is where I’m from. I just feel like it’s a great situation for me – Big East basketball, it doesn’t get any bigger than that.”
He also enjoyed getting to meet a few of his new teammates and spend time with them. While on his visit, he roomed with current Xavier guard Myles Davis.
”I really enjoyed Myles’ company – he’s a really cool guy,” Gaston said. “With him being a point guard, we got to play some pickup together and he was looking for me – we did a lot of pick-and-roll. It was kind of an almost weird instant chemistry between us. He hit a really big shot in the tournament last year, but he’s extremely down to earth. He kept it real with me when we were having personal conversations, so I definitely feel like we’re going to be brothers on and off the court.”
Last year Gaston ranked second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in rebounding and field goal percentage (62.6), and turned in 18 double-doubles while adding 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game. He was also named the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week four times.
”Toughness,” Gaston said when asked what he’ll bring to Xavier. “I’m a good rebounder on the offensive and defensive glass, and I’m nice on the block. I definitely feel like I can score with both hands and I have some moves down there. I just bring a low post presence. Xavier fans will be excited when they see what I can bring to the table, because what you saw at Norfolk State was not everything that I’m capable of.”
“Gaston was arguably the best all-around player in the MEAC last season,” said David Hall, the Norfolk State beat writer for the Virginian-Pilot. “Nobody in the league had a better mix of scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking ability. Plus, he was a well-liked and respected teammate. Fully healthy, Gaston can be a legitimate contributor on a major-conference team.”
Originally from Warren, Ohio, Gaston averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game as a senior at Warren Harding High School. He was rated as the 10th best high school senior in Ohio and the No. 42 center in the country in the 2012 class.
Even with the addition of Gaston, Xavier still has an open scholarship for next school year that will likely go unused.