Verbal Commitment: Xavier Wilson
For the second time in as many weeks, Donyell Marshall and his staff received a verbal commitment from a frontcourt player, as class of '19 forward Xavier Wilson announced his intention to attend Central Connecticut St. This one caused Marshall to do the "Carlton".
The 6'7" 200 lb. Wilson's commitment comes just a day or two after taking an official visit to CCSU, and week after visiting the University of New Hampshire, which was the other school primarily in on him (UMass-Lowell also offered last summer).
New England Recruiting Report describes Wilson as strong-bodied with "vertical athleticism" (which I believe means he can jump high), while The Hoop Hustle noted his versatility and rebounding ability.
After graduating from Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, NY in 2018, he took a prep year at The Hothkiss School (Lakeville, CT) where he improved his body, as well as his jump shot.
Wilson averaged 15 ppg, 10 rpg and 2 blocks per game for a Hotchkiss team that finished 12-3 and advanced to the NEPSAC Class A semifinals, featuring a starting lineup consisting entirely of likely Division 1 players.
So what is CCSU getting? As written above, Wilson is strong, with the kind of frame that will likely continue to fill during his time in college. Offensively, he has shown the ability to shoot it as a “pick and pop” guy, and he should be able to finish at the rim given his strength and athleticism. He does have an ability to put the ball on the floor, though he's more Joe Hugley with the ball than Jamir Coleman (that is; straight line drives to the rim rather than shot creation). But Wilson is certainly not a back-to-the-basket player like Deion Bute was. He's got mobility.
Defensively, Wilson is likely a '5' in the NEC; based on watching video (there's a lot out there of him, like here) he doesn't appear to have the kind of lateral quickness (at least not yet) to defend on the perimeter. However, his size and strength should allow him to be an adequate post defender while providing a level of rim protection.
While I'd love to pencil in Wilson as the starting 5 for the 2019-20 Blue Devils, it's worth noting how difficult it is for bigs at this level to step on in Day 1 and be "Division 1 ready". Over the past three seasons, there have been just a handful of players 6’6” or taller who have played more than 40% of available minutes (i.e. ~16 mpg) in the NEC:
2018-19: Malik Jefferson, MSMU (53%); Patrick Harding, Bryant (44%)
2017-18: Koby Thomas, RMU (67%); Bobby Planutis, MSMU (59%); Mark Flagg, SFU (44%); Charles Bain, RMU (43%); Brandon Carroll, Bryant (40%).
2016-17: Robert Montgomery, SFC (45%); Kaley Bishop, FDU (43%).
If you consider "starting level minutes" at least 20 mpg, there was just one true freshman big over the past three seasons to accomplish this, and that is Malik Jefferson of Mount St. Mary's, who earned all-NEC Rookie honors (Thomas and Planutis are both more wings than bigs). Big men typically take time to develop.
With that said, Wilson should garner immediate playing time as a freshman, even if that means in a reserve role. Central's frontcourt is currently five deep, with a potential depth chart looking like this:
1) Jamir Coleman (he played the 4 almost exclusively last season, but could lineup on the wing as well)
2) Stephane Ayangma (4 and 5)
3) Karrington Wallace (4 and 5)
4) Xavier Wilson (5)
5) Harrison Kay (5)
Wilson is now the third member of the 2019-20 recruiting class, joining Junior College transfer Stephane Ayangma and fellow freshman Trey Tennyson.
With four scholarships available, Central Connecticut’s biggest area of need is at the point guard spot, with only Thai Segwai the only current Blue Devil who can man the 1. Those final four scholarships will likely go to guards, though I wouldn’t be shocked to see another big wing join the fold.