CINCINNATI --- Xavier University men’s basketball announced its impressive 2017 recruiting class, which is the highest ranked class in school history. The five-member group is currently ranked No. 5 in the nation by Scout.com and 247sports.com, as well as No. 6 by ESPN.com and Rivals.com.
The five new Musketeers, who all signed National Letters of Intent today, are:
Elias Harden, a 6-5 guard from Pebblebrook High School in Mableton, Ga.
Kentrevious Jones, a 6-10 center from Westside High School in Macon, Ga.
Naji Marshall, a 6-6 forward from Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va.
Jared Ridder, a 6-7 forward from Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo.
Paul Scruggs, a 6-3 guard from Prolific Prep in Napa, Calif.
Xavier head coach Chris Mack on the class:
“I am really excited to announce the recruiting class of 2017 high school seniors. My coaching staff worked their tails off to identify great fits for our program. The 2017 class has a chance to make their mark on Xavier in the coming years. Their families have raised quality young men who believe that Xavier University is the right fit for their sons. We are beyond excited to bring in a class that has the makings of one of the best in all of college basketball.”
Elias Harden, 6-5, 175, guard, Pebblebrook High School (Mableton, Ga.)
- Four-star rankings by ESPN.com and 247sports.com and three-star by Scout.com and Rivals.com
- Ranked No. 136 nationally by Rivals, Four-star recruit on ESPN.com and no. 41 at his position
- Averaged 20.9 ppg., 5.8 rpg., 1.9 apg. and 2 spg. as a junior at Sandy Creek HS
- Class AAAA second team All-State as a junior
- Helped lead his team to a regional championship as a junior
Xavier head coach Chris Mack on Harden: “Elias Harden is vastly underrated in my opinion. He can do it on both ends of the floor because of his athleticism and size. Elias’ size allows him to shoot the ball over defenders and will give us versatility at the guard position. Elias can shoot the 3 consistently, is adept at mid-range pull-ups and knows how to get to the rim both in the halfcourt and in transition. Our pace of play meshes well with what Elias brings to the table.”
Jeff Borzello (ESPN) on Harden: "Harden brings a lot to the table at both ends of the floor. Offensively, he can make shots from the perimeter and is very good in the mid-range with his pull-up jumper. He can also play in transition. On the defensive end, he has length and likes to play in passing lanes."
Kentrevious Jones, 6-10, 290, center, Westside High School (Macon, Ga.)
- Three-star recruit by ESPN.com, Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247sports.com
- Averaged 21.2 ppg, and 13.8 rpg at Central High School, Macon, GA
- Transferred to Westside High School for his senior campaign
- Played with Atlanta Xpress on the Under Armour AAU Circuit
Xavier head coach Chris Mack on Jones: “Big K is massive with a great touch and IQ for the game. What excites me with Kent has been his desire to get in the shape he needs to be in for our level. Back home he’s already lost over 30 pounds so he’s well on his way. Kentrevious can score with his back to the basket and understands the art of sealing and using his body to create space. If you foul him, he makes free throws. He’s a unique kid and I’m excited to have him here at Xavier.”
Jeff Borzello (ESPN) on Jones: "Jones will bring a different dimension than a lot of big men in college basketball: he's a true back-to-the-basket player who does most of his damage around the rim. He takes up space and gets good position, and has good touch in the paint. He loves contact and is also solid on the glass and on the defensive end due to his massive size."
Naji Marshall, 6-6, 205, forward, from Hargrave Military Acad. (Chatham, Va.)
- Four-star by espn.com Scout.com, Rivals.com and 247sports.com
- Ranked No. 39 by Scout.com, No. 47 by Rivals.com, No. 57 by 247sports.com and No. 85 by ESPN.com; No. 20 at his position on ESPN.com
- 2016 Conference Player of the Year and First Team All-Metro
- Averaged 18 ppg., 7 rpg. and 4 apg. as a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School
- Led his team to a 4A state championship in Maryland
- Attending Hargrave Military Academy this season
Xavier head coach Chris Mack on Marshall: “Naji Marshall is a throwback to that point-forward, versatile swingman of years past. He can do a little bit of everything and do it a very high level. I love his ability to pass, to see the play develop. As coaches we are continually teaching but I’ve always believed it’s difficult to teach a player a true feel for the game. Naji has that feel for the game. He rebounds, he scores and he loves to defend. But most of all, Naji plays to win.”
Evan Daniels (Scout.com and FOX Sports) on Marshall: “Naji Marshall is one of the best wing prospects in the 2017 class. He’s a tough, aggressive and physical wing prospect. Marshall has good size for the position and plays with tremendous energy. He’s capable of being an immediate contributor at Xavier.”
Jared Ridder, 6-7, 205, forward, Kickapoo High School (Springfield, Mo.)
- Four-star recruit by ESPN.com and ranked No. 133 nationally by Rivals.com
- Listed as one of 10 players that “Just Missed” the ESPN.com Top 100
- Ranked as No. 1 player in Missouri by ESPN.com, and No. 23 nationally at small forward
- Averaged 19.3 ppg. and 7.2 rpg; while connecting on 72 3-pt. FG at 44 percent
- Led Kickapoo High School to a 29-3 record, and a Class 5 state championship runner-up finish last season, falling to Jayson Tatum (Duke) and Chaminade
- Named first team all-state by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association
- Helped lead MoKan Elite to the 2016 Nike EYBL Peach Jam title
Xavier head coach Chris Mack on Ridder: “You don’t have to watch Jared play very long until you figure out he can shoot the ball as well as any high school player in America. He instantly spaces the floor at the college level. With added strength, Jared will be a very difficult match-up with how we play. I love the fact that with Jared he knew very early on that Xavier was where he wanted to be. He wasn’t interested in the recruiting process, he wanted to be a Musketeer!”
Paul Biancardi (ESPN) on Ridder: “Jared Ridder is an excellent outside shooter with size, range, accuracy and confidence. He had an outstanding summer playing for MoKan Elite making timely shots on their way to capturing the Peach Jam Championship. Look for Ridder to be one of the best 3-point shooters in the BIG EAST in years to come.”
Jeff Borzello (ESPN) on Ridder: "Ridder is one of the best shooters in the 2017 class. Especially with his size, he can really stretch a defense due to his ability to consistently knock down shots from the perimeter. He's the type of guy who can get hot and make four, five, six 3-pointers in a half."
Paul Scruggs, 6-3, 190, guard from Prolific Prep (Napa, Calif.)
- Four-star recruit by ESPN.com, Scout.com, Rivals.com, and 247sports.com
- Ranked nationally No. 28 by ESPN.com, No. 31 by Rivals.com, No. 31 by Scout.com and No. 29 by 247sports.com
- No. 5 point guard nationally (ESPN.com)
- Averaged 19.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 4.1 apg, and 3.0 spg as a junior at Southport High School in Indianapolis
- 2016 Indiana Mr. Basketball Candidate
- Two-time attendee at the Stephen Curry Select All-American Camp
- Transferred to Prolific Prep in Napa, California for his senior season.
Xavier head coach Chris Mack on Scruggs: “Paul Scruggs is as tough of a competitor as we’ve recruited at Xavier. There’s not a challenge that Paul won’t answer. He loves to compete and he plays to win. He’s a point guard with excellent vision, an ability to get in the lane and plays with a physicality that makes opponents uncomfortable. He has the tools and mentality to be a lockdown defender in college. His jumpshot was a question mark early on in his career, but he’s grown much more comfortable using it over the last 12 months.”
Evan Daniels (Scout.com and FOX Sports) on Scruggs: “Paul Scruggs is a unique, versatile prospect that impacts the game in a variety of ways. He can play and guard multiple positions. He’s a good passer that’s capable of playing with the ball in his hands, but you can also move him off the ball and ask him to score. Athletically he’s gifted and has a lot of long term potential.”