Four XU Recruiting Storylines to Watch in July

With the July evaluation period getting underway on Wednesday, here's a look at four Xavier recruiting storylines to keep an eye on throughout the month.

Closing In on a Commitment

The Musketeers already have one 2017 commitment secured in the form of 6-foot-7 shooter Jared Ridder. However, with ambitions of a five- or six-man class, it's easy to get anxious while waiting for the next commitment. 

Two players, Naji Marshall and Paul Scruggs, currently stand out as being farthest along in the process while also having significant mutual interest with Xavier. 

Marshall became a top priority for Xavier with his play during April and the Musketeers quickly became rumored as the team to beat in his recruitment. He listed a top five at the beginning of June and seemed to be nearing a decision at the time, but now, sources don't seem quite as confident about the direction this one's heading. Maryland could be making waves as a late contender. These first few weeks of July will hopefully produce some intel on whether Marshall is getting closer to pledging for XU or putting a decision off and potentially drifting farther away. 

It sounds like Scruggs is winding down his recruitment. He's been on several visits and told Snow after the Curry Camp that he's getting tired of the process. Every source you can find seems to think it's either Xavier or Indiana, though Louisville has certainly gained some steam recently. The feeling seems to be that Scruggs may already have his mind made up, so an August announcement seems likely. We'll keep an eye on how he treats the process this month and see if he starts dropping any hints. 

Of course, these situations often shift quickly. Last year at this time Xavier Simpson seemed like a lock to end up at Xavier. Instead, they ended up reeling in Quentin Goodin. It's hard to say which recruit that could be this year but look out for players that have racked up several visits already - names like Alex O'Connell and Elias Harden come to mind. 

Position of Need

There are always new names that pop up as more serious targets during the month of July. 

This year expect there to be an emphasis on adding new point guard prospects to the list of current backcourt targets. The Musketeers are in the mix for several really talented guards but most of them are (a) actually multi-positional guys and (b) highly-rated. 

The staff feels it's in a position to put together a big class and the coaches are happy with their current list of targets, but point guard is a position where they feel they could cast a wider net and add some more depth in terms of players they're recruiting. Expect them to target a few more traditional point guards that are ballhandlers and distributors first. 

If Edmond Sumner leaves after this year, Quentin Goodin would be the only point guard on the roster, so finding another one in the 2017 class is important. 

Piecing Together the 2017 Puzzle

This class is a big one for the Musketeers - they don't just need to replace top-tier talent, they need to find a bunch of guys. The sheer number of players they're recruiting this summer should present some challenges. 

I'm interested to see how this class comes together. Could recruiting so many guys stretch the staff thin and cost them some opportunities? How much maneuvering and massaging will the staff have to do when taking commitments to ensure other targets aren't turned off? With the staff recruiting so many high-level guys, what happens if they swing and miss on all of them? Are there enough backup options that they've recruited well enough to make up for it? 

We won't find out the answer to most of those questions until after July is over, but it'll still be interesting to see how the circumstances impact the Musketeers' strategy during the biggest recruiting month of the year. 

Finding a Froncourt

The Musketeers are looking for a little bit of everything in this 2017 class but their efforts in finding frontcourt targets have been less successful so far than other positions. 

Minneapolis center Jericho Sims seems to be the top option right now with the most mutual interest. It will be good to get a better feel for his game. Aside from him, there will be a handful of names to follow and new ones sure to surface. 

XU's staff has started turning up the heat on Pickerington Central's Sterling Manley but it will be interesting to see if he's worthy of being a priority target. He'll be trying to prove himself while coming back on short recovery after suffering a major broken leg. 

Warren G. Harding's Derek Culver is another Ohio big man still in the mix, and there's a Xavier connection with him as RaShid Gaston also attended Warren G. Harding.   West Virginia seems like the team to beat at the moment but Xavier will likely try to make one more push during July. Nate Watson seems like a long shot with Maryland leading the way and Miami right behind but landing teammate Naji Marshall could give Xavier a boost. We could even see the Musketeers try to make up ground with a kid like Malik Williams, though that seems like a long shot.  

I expect it's more likely the coaches will find an under the radar player that really catches their eyes, but regardless, watching them track the big men over the next few weeks should be intriguing. 

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