Naji Marshall’s rapid rise on the national college basketball recruiting scene, which culminated Friday morning with his commitment to Xavier, did not occur until after the Eleanor Roosevelt All-Met led the Raiders to a Maryland 4A state championship this past March.
By June, Marshall had been branded one of the top 60 prospects in the country by national recruiting services. Over the past three weeks, a gaggle of college coaches moved around their schedules in order to attend his games and simply be seen in the gym by him. Suddenly, he was coveted, and the chase ended just as quickly.
Marshall revealed his seven finalists — Xavier, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Rhode Island, TCU and Maryland (the Terrapins reportedly did not offer Marshall a scholarship) — on social media Monday afternoon, hours after the conclusion of the NCAA’s July live recruiting period. He again used his Twitter account four days later to officially choose Xavier.
“It was a perfect fit for me and I loved the coaching staff,” Marshall said of Xavier in a Friday afternoon telephone interview. “It’s a small school. I was comfortable with the area and I just liked the plans they had for me in the future.”
Marshall, a 6-foot-5 wing, emerged as one of the most versatile prospects in the Washington area as a senior this past year. He averaged 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists per game while leading the Raiders to their second state title in four years. He’s a physical slasher with point guard instincts, defends multiple positions and scores in crunch time.
Due to previous academic issues, Marshall must attend and play prep basketball at Hargrave Military Academy next season before moving on to Xavier in 2017. He arrived at Eleanor Roosevelt from Takoma Academy ineligible to play basketball as a sophomore. But the initial setbacks matured him, and his stock began to improve from there.
The extra exposure on a major shoe company’s summer basketball circuit over the past few months ultimately convinced Xavier, and others, to offer Marshall the scholarship opportunity he accepted Friday. Marshall became the Musketeers’ second 2017 commitment in three days after Atlanta shooting guard Elias Harden announced he had picked Xavier over a host of suitors on Wednesday.
“A lot of coaches, they contacted me once or twice but then they stopped. I found out what schools really liked me and what schools were there just because other schools were there,” Marshall said. “Sometimes it could be stressful. Sometimes it could be fun. It was on and off. I learned a lot.”