Jamie Rhodes-US PRESSWIRE
Twitter was a-flutter with activity last night, as Top 100 class of 2013 shooting guard JaJuan Johnson, a four-star recruit from Memphis ranked No. 63 nationally by Rivals, announced he's going to decide today where he's going to play ball next season. Rumor has it that Johnson has narrowed his potential destinations to Alabama and Marquette, which was cause for much rejoicing amongst certain of the Golden Eagle faithful yesterday. But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let's take a breath and remember:
Buzz Williams' first recruiting class at Marquette -- the one he scrambled to put together after Smarmy Tom Crean bailed for Indiana, and Tyshawn Taylor and Nick Williams were released from their national letters of intent -- consisted of JUCO transfers Joe Fulce and Jimmy Butler, transfer Liam McMorrow, and freshman Chris Otule. McMorrow never suited up for Marquette because of a medical condition, and you can make a compelling argument that Fulce never reached his potential because of injuries, too. Otule, who was a two-star recruit on Rivals and wasn't ranked nationally, has wound up being a serviceable (and sometimes defensively dominant) center, and Jimmy Butler just had his third-year player option picked up by the Chicago Bulls.
In Buzz's second year at the helm, he brought in JUCO transfers Dwight Buycks and Darius Johnson-Odom, plus freshmen Erik Williams, Jeronne Maymon, Youssoupha Mbao, Brett Roseboro, and Junior Cadougan. Of the freshmen, Maymon was the most decorated recruit: he was four stars on Rivals and ranked No. 47 nationally. Williams and Cadougan were also four-star recruits, with Cadougan ranked No. 73 and E-Will ranked No. 104 nationally by Rivals. Mbao and Roseboro were three-star recruits, unranked nationally by Rivals. Buycks had two solid if unspectacular years for MU, and DJO played his way into the Association. Of the freshmen, Cadougan is the only one who made it to his junior year at Marquette: Roseboro was barely at MU long enough to unpack his suitcase, Maymon lasted a semester, Mbao was gone after a year, and Williams lasted two.
Year Three featured Vander Blue, Marquette's most highly-rated recruit in some 25 years (five stars and No. 24 nationally on Rivals, four stars and No. 6 at his position by Scout), Reggie Smith, Jamail Jones, Davante Gardner, JUCO transfer Jae Crowder, and transfer Jamil Wilson. Blue was obviously the crown jewel of the freshmen, but Jones and Smith weren't exactly slouches: Jamail was No. 52 nationally and a four-star recruit on Rivals, and Smith was a three-star on Rivals (and No. 112 nationally). Gardner was the least-heralded of the four: three stars and unranked nationally by Rivals, three stars and ranked No. 34 at his position by Scout. And yet: Smith and Jones are gone, and (in case you missed Mr. Kensington's post yesterday) Big Smoove is Marquette's leading returning scorer this season.
Last year's class had walk on transfer and available scholarship sponge Jake Thomas, and freshmen Juan Anderson, Derrick Wilson, and Todd Mayo. Anderson was the big get, according to the rankings (four stars, No. 61 nationally on Rivals; four stars on Scout, No. 21 amongst small forwards), while Wilson and Mayo were both three stars and unranked nationally by Rivals. Mayo, of course, got the most run of the three freshmen, averaging 21.1 minutes and 7.9 points per game.
Now, none of this means that JaJuan Johnson (or any of the other youngins coming in next season) couldn't be a very good player for Marquette. It's just that, based on the history, I wouldn't bet my last dollar on it, and I wouldn't get too broken up if he decided Alabama was a better fit for him.