Xavier entered the offseason aggressively looking at the transfer market and on Tuesday the Musketeers landed Kerem Kanter, a player that should strengthen their depth in the post.
Kanter is a graduate transfer from Green Bay that will have one year of eligibility left to play immediately in 2017-18. He averaged 11.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in 19.1 minutes per game for the Phoenix this year in the Horizon League.
Kanter is currently going through the NBA draft process but is expected to withdraw his name by the May 24 deadline to keep his amateur status and return for one more year of college ball.
At 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds, Kanter has legit size at the center position. He's not quick or especially athletic but he moves fluidly and has good strength.
Offensively, his skill level is what stands out. He has the size and footwork to score on the block and could still improve that part of his game with a little more discipline and some time spent working with Mike Pegues. He's also comfortable facing the basket and playing with the ball in his hands on the perimeter. He shot 36.8 percent from three last year on 38 attempts and sources at Xavier say they'd be comfortable with him attempting even more in their system. He's also capable of eyeing the rim and driving past his man on a bad closeout or setting up one of his teammates with a high-low pass. He truly brings a different look on offense than what Xavier already has in the mix.
The defensive end is where Kanter needs to improve the most. He's strong enough to hold his own in the post and he does a good job of finishing off stops by rebounding well in his area. However, he's not very quick off his feet or when moving laterally. That, along with Green Bay playing at the fourth fastest pace in the country on offense last year, are the main reasons he only played 19.1 minutes per game.
Kanter adds to a frontcourt that will include Sean O'Mara as a senior and Tyrique Jones as a sophomore. JUCO transfer Brady Ernst and freshman Kentrevious Jones are also currently slated to join the roster next season, but Jones is fighting an uphill academic battle to qualify and Ernst hasn't signed a Letter of Intent. The addition of Kanter ensures that Xavier won't be caught shorthanded.
It could also be a sign that Chris Mack and his staff are still interested in playing two bigs together. In the past, the Musketeers have done so when one of their bigs are skilled and can space the floor a bit. Matt Stainbrook enabled them to do this with his passing ability, as did James Farr to an extent with his ability to step out and hit an occasional jumper. Kanter is a little more perimeter-oriented than either of those guys and could bring back some big-to-big passing. This would likely force them to play more zone on the defensive end, but their zone has been more effective than their man-to-man for the most part over the last few seasons and Mack hasn't shied away from mixing it up.
Kanter fills the only current open scholarship Xavier has, which was vacated by Edmond Sumner declaring for the draft. Trevon Bluiett also declared for the draft but has not hired an agent yet and may still return to play one more season for the Musketeers.