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The emergence of Xavier’s Eddie Ekiyor

The third player of Xavier’s highly ranked recruiting class brings defense and a little controversy.

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Completing Xavier’s class of 2016 recruiting trifecta is Eddie Ekiyor, a 6’8 power forward from above the border. Joining Quentin Goodin and Tyrique Jones, the highly rated three-star Canadian player from New Hampshire Academy made his way to Cincinnati a little earlier than his fellow recruits.

Ekiyor chose to enroll a semester early with Xavier, forgoing the typical August collegiate start. His timing for the early enrollment is interesting: after Ekiyor publicly declared signing with Xavier in October, reports were released that he was involved in a hit-and-run accident in Canada months prior. While no serious physical harm occurred to the parties associated with the incident, Ekiyor’s legal reputation took a hit. In the midst of these legal concerns, Ekiyor signed onto the Musketeers late December 2015.

Though officially enrolled as a student, Ekiyor redshirted the 2015-2016 season. Thus, much like transfer RaShid Gaston, Ekiyor was able to spend this past season practicing with the Musketeers.

While not being able to play for Xavier on game day, the “extra” season to familiarize himself with coach Chris Mack’s team is bound to be advantageous for Ekiyor’s official debut. As a recruit, Ekiyor has been consistently praised for his physicality and defensive abilities. Quick to cite Ekiyor’s inherent intelligence of the game, commentators believe the forward will upgrade his offensive capabilities under the right guidance. Thus, having the opportunity to practice and drill those skills with his new team in a redshirt season certainly helps ease Ekiyor’s transition into the next level.

As for his legal concerns, Ekiyor plead guilty to the crime in a tearful display of remorse in early March. Currently, the nature of his sentencing and whether it will affect his playing time with Xavier is unclear.

With the absence of NBA hopeful Jalen Reynolds and graduation of James Farr, the Musketeers have a place for Ekiyor to develop and enhance his powers in the paint. What remains is Ekiyor’s ability to polish and maintain his demeanor outside the court. Undoubtedly, Chris Mack and his fellow teammates will help Ekiyor in that regard as well.