When I see things suggested in Bleacher Report articles that miss the fact that three of Marquette's four recruits have been released and will not be going to college in Milwaukee, not to mention from certain #DoneDeal outlets, I tend to not take them very seriously.
But when someone, in this case ESPN's Jeff Goodman, reports that Matt Carlino is in the process of scheduling a visit to Marquette, well, then I have to take things seriously.
Carlino is a 6'2", 175 lb. guard from Arcadia, Arizona, and he's played the last three seasons for Brigham Young University. Having already earned his degree from BYU, he's taking advantage of the same rule that allowed Trent Lockett to transfer to Marquette, and he's looking at joining the Golden Eagles for his senior season.
This potential move has a lot of upside for MU in the first year of the Steve Wojciechowski era, and only a slightly minor downside.
The Good News
Since he stepped foot onto campus in Provo, Carlino has been one of the most efficient passers in the country. Via KenPom.com, Carlino's junior season was his worst in assist rate, with Carlino assisting on 29.7% of BYU's baskets while he was on the floor. While that was the first time in three seasons that he was under 30%, it was also his highest ranked season, finishing #85 in the country after ranking #98 as a sophomore and #88 as a freshman.
Carlino is also a talented defender. He ranked #299 in the country as a freshman in steal rate, or the percent of defensive possessions that ended with a steal by Carlino. He improved on that ranking each year, moving to #139 as a sophomore and #82 as a junior, getting a steal on 3.5% of BYU's defensive outings each of the last two seasons.
Now, that's just a lot of number jumble. To give you a comparison, the last Marquette player to rank in the top 100 in both steal rate and assist rate was Dominic James in his senior year. 'Nic had an assist rate of 30.6% (#78) and a steal rate of 3.9% (#62) in the 2008-2009 season. The difference here is that Carlino can shoot. Carlino has never shot below 68% at the line or 33% behind the arc, numbers that James fell very short of his senior year and never matched in any other season as well.
In addition to being a high major player, Carlino would fill a need for Marquette on multiple fronts. First of all, Marquette currently has three available scholarships for this fall, and Coach Wojciechowski needs to fill at least two of them, and ideally all three of them, as MU will be without the services of Luke Fischer until mid-December. Getting a player of Carlino's caliber would definitely take a bit of pressure off of whoever else Wojo brings in, plus it buys the coaching staff some time. Carlino would only be at Marquette for one year, allowing them to focus on recruiting someone to take his spot in the fall of 2015.
Carlino would also solve a lot of questions in the backcourt. No one wearing blue and gold is excited about the prospect of another season of Derrick Wilson manning the point, and the question of whether Duane Wilson can handle 1) the transition to Division 1 basketball and 2) the athletic activity on his already stress fractured leg still has to be answered. Carlino is a proven commodity that could push Derrick to the bench and into a role that he excels at and also give Duane a bit of cover as he adjusts to things in his redshirt freshman season.
The Slightly Bad News
After reading that last paragraph, this should be slightly obvious. Given the dearth of experience on Marquette's roster right now, odds are that the Golden Eagles are going to struggle through another slightly down season. It's conceivable that Carlino's presence on the roster could hamper Duane Wilson's development as a Division 1 point guard. It would be up to the coaching staff to figure out a way to both win basketball games and develop Wilson to make sure that he's ready to take the reins full time in 2015-16 when Carlino and Derrick Wilson's eligibility has expired. I'm not saying they can't do it, of course, I'm merely pointing out the tightrope that they would have to balance on.
The other slight downside is that BYU fans, or at least the sample size of Vanquish The Foe readers, weren't completely disappointed in Carlino's departure. 55% of the 244 people that voted called themselves "glass half-empty" when assessing Carlino's contributions to the Cougars over the past three seasons.
As VTF's Paul Greenhalgh explains:
Part of the reason he is so polarizing for fans is that we have all seen how high his potential is. He didn't have just one or two lucky games in his two-and-a-half seasons as a Cougar. He has had multiple games that impressed us with his ability to shoot, drive, pass, and play defense. Unfortunately, he also had multiple games in which he shot the team right out of the game from the three-point line, missed layups, and gave up too many turnovers trying to sneak a ball past defenders. Are you a Carlino half-empty or Carlino half-full kind of a fan?
Of course an argument can be made for Carlino being a hindrance to the program, and that argument is helped by the fact that he lost his starting position for just over half the season. However, coming off the bench Carlino still found ways to contribute. It's hard to say that he rode the bench when his minutes only declined from 29 minutes per game to 26 minutes per game.
Ultimately, I think the benefits outweigh any negatives here, and I'd be happy to see Carlino join the Golden Eagles for 2014-15. But it's not carved in stone as of yet, as Carlino isn't planning on visiting Marquette until the second weekend of May. We'll have to keep waiting and watching to see how the recruiting path goes...