Over his six year tenure as the head coach at Xavier, Chris Mack and his staff have molded their system and game-plan to fit the talents on their roster. Now, that strategy has become a major part of their sales pitch as they try to land 2016 big man Dylan Painter.
Painter is a unique player - he has legitimate size to bang down low and be a productive traditional low-post player, but he can also step out and make plays with his handle, shot, and passing ability. Currently, he's averaging 8.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.
"I think I'm very tough and I like to battle down low and rebound," Painter said. "But I can also shoot and dribble around bigger slower guys, or post up smaller guys. I have a really high IQ and understand where my teammates are going to be, so I feel I can really pass, whether that's across the court for an open three or seeing a guy cutting to the basket for a layup."
Xavier staff's track record and willingness to be open about how they use those skills stood out to Painter when he talked to the coaches during his official visit to campus last weekend (June 20-21).
"They said they're losing a lot of big guys so I can come in from the first day and have a major impact," he said. "They said they're not going to hold me to a five or a four. They're going to play me however we match up best with the other team. If the other team is really big, then I'll probably play with another big and be at the four. They said they won't limit my skills and will put me wherever I can help the team most and be most successful."
Overall, the visit was a success for the Hershey, Pennsylvania native.
"I thought it was really good, Painter said. "It was my first official visit and I didn't really understand the concept of how they really take care of you. We went to a really nice restaurant."
The size of the campus was one aspect that really stood out to him.
"I expected it to be a little bit bigger, but it's kind of cool how tight knit it is," he said. "Like the freshman dorms for the basketball players, you literally just walk across the parking lot and you're at the arena so that was pretty cool."
His family also toured the Cintas Center while the second session of high school team camp was being played.
"I thought it was amazing," Painter said of the arena. "They said it seats 10,250 people in there and they sell it out all the time. The practice gym is nice. The weight room was nice too, even though they said they're going to be redoing it by the time I'm getting there. The whole basketball complex was pretty amazing."
While hanging out on campus, he spent most of his time with a potential future teammate.
"I hung out with J.P. Macura a lot," Painter said. "He seemed like a really cool kid."
Another part of the Xavier program that appeals to Painter is the opportunity to play in the Big East.
"It's a great conference from Xavier to Villanova to Providence, Creighton, Georgetown… all the teams are really good teams that you see in the tournament regularly," he said. "They usually get a ton of teams in the tournament, so even if you don't win the conference title you still have a pretty good chance of getting to the tournament. The venues are great. Georgetown is close to home, Villanova is close, so getting to play a bunch of games close to home would definitely be a big plus."
Painter has another official visit planned to Iowa this weekend. After that, he'll hit the road for a busy July of AAU basketball with his Team Final squad. He won't be taking anymore visits until after the July evaluation period.
When asked which schools were still involved in his recruitment, he listed Penn State, Iowa, Villanova, George Washington and Northwestern as the schools that "stick out in his mind" along with Xavier. Painter added that he will "definitely" not be making a decision until after the July evaluation period.
"Maybe September, but more realistically it's going to be like October or November," he said.
When it comes to the deciding factors in his decision, Painter knows what he's looking for in his future school.
"I just want to go to a place where I fit in with the players, because those are going to be the best friends for the rest of your life and the guys that you spend every day with going through the grind. Also, I want to connect with the coaches. And then, just a place where I fit into the system basketball wise. Because if you're a big guy that can do a lot of stuff, you don't want to go somewhere and just screen and rebound. That would be no fun."