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Travis Steele is Xavier men's basketball new head coach

Posted at 1:32 PM, Mar 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-01 01:25:20-04

CINCINNATI -- Chris Mack lost his trusted top assistant coach, but he said he couldn't be happier that Travis Steele will replace him as Xavier's new head coach.

Trevon Bluiett, destined for the NBA after a great Xavier career, also applauded Steele's hiring on Twitter.

Returning point guard Quentin Goodin joined the chorus, saying Steele was the players' choice.

Xavier named Steele, 36, as its new head coach Saturday, just three days after Mack left for Louisville. Mack had said he hoped to add Steele, his associate head coach at Xavier, to his Cardinals staff  if Xavier didn't promote him.

Athletic Director Greg Christopher said Steele got a five-year contract, CBS Sports reported. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Now that that matter is out of the way, Steele needs to get back on the recruiting trail and lock down the recruits who had committed to Xavier under Mack. Xavier has already lost one: Dartmouth graduate transfer Evan Boudreaux changed his mind after Mack left and signed with Purdue.

Two others, Dontarius James, a forward from South Carolina, and Keonte Kennedy, a shooting guard from Texas, responded favorably.

Kennedy retweeted news of Steele's hiring, which seems to indicate that he approves.

Meanwhile, Steele's hiring led to speculation that Xavier could nab Syracuse forward Matthew Moyer, a former four-star recruit from Columbus, Ohio. Moyer is transferring after one season, and Moyer's mother said they would immediately seek an interview with Steele. The 6-8 Moyer averaged 3.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in a limited role last season.

Steele, nationally recognized as a top recruiter and strategist, had been considered the most probable choice for Xavier. He has spent 10 seasons there, including nine under Mack. He will be introduced to the public as head coach at a news conference next week, according to Xavier.

"As we completed our national search process, it became clear that the best head coach for our program is the person we knew the best, Travis Steele," Christopher said in a statement.

Steele tweeted a photo of him and Christopher and said he is "extremely excited" to be Xavier's next head coach:

A recent article in The Sporting News called Steele "an elite recruiter, an excellent tactician, a coach the players in the program have come to trust. His strength as a recruiter in his hometown of Indianapolis is obvious in the presence of such high-end talents as All-American Trevon Bluiett and freshman Paul Scruggs on the most recent Musketeers roster."

Steele was named one of the top two recruiters in the Big East Conference by The Sporting News.

Steele also needs to build a staff since Xavier assistants Luke Murray and Mike Pueges have followed Mack to Louisville, and others may join them.

Hiring assistants at Xavier may be easier than elsewhere, though, since history shows the school is more likely than not to promote an assistant to head coach.

Steele, the 18th head coach in Xavier basketball history, continues the tradition.  Xavier promoted three of its previous four coaches from within, including Mack, Sean Miller and Skip Prosser. The only exception was Thad Matta, hired from Butler to replace Prosser.

Miller hired Steele prior to the 2008-2009 season. Mack promoted Steele to assistant coach before the 2009-2010 season, and then to associate head coach after the 2015-2016 season.

Prior to Xavier, Steele worked on the staff at Indiana. He joined the Hoosiers in August 2006 as video coordinator, and was promoted to assistant coach in February 2008.

Steele was born in Danville, Indiana, and graduated cum laude from Butler University with a bachelor of science degree in marketing. He and his wife Amanda have a 5-year-old son, Winston. College basketball is a family business: His brother is former Xavier assistant and current Akron head coach John Groce.