Xavier's coaching staff took an already strong 2017 recruiting class to another level by landing a commitment from Indianapolis guard Paul Scruggs on Friday.
Scruggs is a physical combo guard that makes plays on both ends of the court with his athleticism and effort. He's ranked as the No. 31 prospect in the country by Scout.com. He averaged 14.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game this summer on the Under Armour Association circuit. On his high school team, he put up 19.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 3.0 steals as a junior.
In terms of roster composition, the idea of pairing Quentin Goodin and Paul Scruggs in the same backcourt is titillating. Both are around 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and very athletic. Bodies don't come much more college-ready than those two and Scruggs also has tremendous length with his wingspan measuring at 6-foot-10 over the summer. This should eliminate the possibility of the Musketeers running into a guard match-up problem like they did last year with Isaiah Whitehead. There will be no overwhelming those two guys on the defensive end when it comes to size and athleticism. Add in long, versatile wings like Naji Marshall and Elias Harden and Xavier has the makings of an elite defensive team. On the other end of the court, opposing defenses should have a difficult time finding two defenders that could match-up with Scruggs and Goodin and be able to keep them both out of the lane. I expect them to put a lot of opponents in foul trouble. Pairing them with shooters will be important, though, as neither player shoots all that well. That's where Kaiser Gates' development as a perimeter scorer could play a key role in Xavier's future success.
On offense, Scruggs gets into the lane constantly with his handle and uses his body well to finish or draw contact. He also has a crafty mid-range game. He's shown improvement as a decision-maker but could still tighten up that area of his game as he continues his development as a point guard. As for his jump shot, he definitely wouldn't be labeled a shooter, but he has his moments where he'll knock down a few threes in a row.
On defense, he's quick and strong with the versatility to guard at least 1-3. His toughness and size will make it easier for the Musketeers to switch screens and not end up with huge disadvantages. He has the ability to be a lockdown defender. He's also a strong rebounder at both ends.
From an optics standpoint, this is a huge commitment for Xavier. Scruggs has been known as one of the best in the country since he entered high school. He received an offer from Indiana in the summer before his freshman year and they've been hard after him ever since. Purdue, Xavier, and Kansas all came in with offers for Scruggs in between his freshman and sophomore year. Michigan State and Louisville both battled their way into the mix more recently. UConn also tried to make a late push. In the end, it came down to Xavier and Indiana. The Musketeers just flat out beat IU straight up for an Indiana kid that both schools had made a priority for a long time. That's a pretty good look.
Xavier now has five commitments in the 2017 class, two of which are ranked in the top 40 of Scout's top 100. Jared Ridder is a three-star shooter out of Springfield, Missouri; Elias Harden is a four-star bucket-getter from Atlanta, Georgia ranked just outside the top 100; Naji Marshall is an extremely versatile wing from the Washington D.C. area ranked No. 39; Kentrevious Jones is a space-eating big man from Macon, Georgia; and now Scruggs is the highest-ranked member of the class. This Xavier class will be highly-ranked nationally and will likely go down as the highest-profile class in program history.