If any team in the Atlantic 10 has their sights set on winning the conference, this may be the season to do so.
Because the future is looking bright for Xavier.
The Musketeers are one of the conference's elite programs as it is. In what was supposed to be a down year, the Muskies went 14-2 in conference play to earn a share of the regular season title before making a run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. And while Jordan Crawford and Jason Love have moved on to the professional level, Xavier brings back quite a bit of talent from last seasons team, including their star point guard Tu Holloway.
And starting next season, Xavier is only going to get better.
Over the weekend, Chris Mack received commitments from two of the best players in the country. Michael Chandler is a 6'10" center that is rated in the top 30 in his class and as the No. 4 center. Previously committed to Louisville, Chandler backed of his verbal with the Cardinals earlier in the summer. Chandler joins a recruiting class that already includes Dezmine Wells, a top 50 player nationally, as well as Darwin Davis and Jalen Reynolds, who both ranks in the top 30 at their position.
Also committing this weekend was D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, a top 30 player in the class of 2012. It could get even better for the Muskies, as Kyle Anderson, another blue-chip 2012 recruit, will be visiting the school on November 5th.
Xavier has long been considered one of the few "high-major" programs outside of the BCS, but pulling in at least three top 50 recruits over the course of two years is still a very impressive haul. Like I said, the future in bright for the Muskies.
It wasn't all good news this weekend, however. Xavier's designated sharp shooter Brad Redford tore the ACL in his left knee in practice and will miss the entire 2010-2011 season. Redford wasn't going to be a star this season, but he was widely regarded as one of the premier shooters in the country. Having him on the floor opened up lanes for guys like Holloway and Mark Lyons to penetrate was creating space for Xavier's big guys inside.