On Wednesday, Class of 2016 Canadian big man Kalif Young took to Twitter to announce his collegiate choice.
Young, who is listed as 6'9" and 225 lb. on his 247 Sports profile page, had recently taken visits to Marquette and Providence, with the trip to Rhode Island coming this past weekend. His father had the standard issue "the visit went very well" lines communicated to SNY's Adam Zagoria for both the Marquette and Providence visits, but the first recruit that says his visit completely sucked will be the first one in recorded history.
Young shaped up to be a power forward in the traditional sense, which meant that he would have been a perfect fit for Marquette going forward. Luke Fischer and Matt Heldt are both traditional post players, so the center position should be well covered for at least the 2016-17 season. The next tallest returning player on the team, though, is Sandy Cohen at 6'6". Freshman Sam Hauser lists at 6'6" to match Cohen, as does graduate transfer Katin Reinhardt. In short, while no one was going to be able to step in and do what Henry Ellenson did this past season from a numbers perspective, there's also no one on the roster who shapes up to even approximate his size.
Maybe it doesn't matter all that much for next year, because hey: how much do freshmen really contribute anyway? Going down the road, Fischer will be a senior this fall, and while Heldt showed signs of winning over the coaching staff late in the season, he's still far from a dependable quantity at center. Young would have provided a bridge to the future for Marquette, as we've already seen that MU is hard at work recruiting big men for the fall of 2017. Young's mere existence on the roster could have provided those future freshmen a bit of an umbrella to get ready to contribute.
Here's the thing, though: It's entirely possible it doesn't matter. Young is ranked #326 by the 247 Composite system. Sure, three star prospects can sometimes end up being guys who just flew under the radar and get ranked that low because no one has really seen them play, and given that Young's from Canada, that's definitely possible here. The flip side of that coin is the possibility that Young is a complete project and wouldn't have seen the court all that much this season anyway, and any future top 100 big men would just keep him off the floor in future seasons. Back when his visit to Marquette was re-confirmed, I dug through the 247 archives, and if Young had chosen Marquette, he would have been the lowest ranked recruit to join Marquette since Chris Otule and his #583 ranking in 2008. Remember, at his best, Chris Otule averaged 5.8 points and 4.4 rebounds while never averaging more than 18 minutes per game.
By the way, that article was posted 16 days ago, and since then Young has fallen from #320 to #326. Maybe it means nothing. Maybe it means something.
Now that we've addressed the issues surrounding Kalif Young individually, we have to touch on the elephant in the room. It is very, very, very apparent that Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski informed Wally Ellenson that there was no longer a place for him on the MU roster. You can go back and read our post at the time about it for the details, but the fact of the matter is that Wally's departure from the team is not amicable nor is it mutual. No, we don't know the full story about what happened, and we likely never will. (Side note: If anyone wants to email us with their side of the story, we're all ears.) Regardless of what may or may not have been said or promised or understood, the fact of the matter is that Wojo moved on without Wally in the picture in order to add someone someone with size to this roster. It looked like that might have been L.G. Gill, but he picked Maryland. The seemingly last option for that final roster spot was Young, and he picked a Big East rival over the Golden Eagles.
The fact of the matter is - and we'll get more into this on Friday in his Player Review - Wally Ellenson struggled to be a minor contributor to Marquette last season and he was never going to be a major contributor to Marquette next season. Losing him is not a big deal. Booting him/recruiting over him/moving on without him before someone was guaranteed to take his spot? Well, maybe that is a big deal.
Of course, if Marquette wins 25 games next season and makes the NCAA tournament, I doubt anyone will remember that any of this even happened.