The 2017-18 college basketball season is right around the corner, so let's get into the Marquette Golden Eagles basketball roster and take a look at what to expect from each player this season. We'll be going through the players one by one: First the four freshmen going in alphabetical order by last name, moving on to MU’s lone available transfer this season, and then wrapping up with the returning players, going in order of average minutes played per game last season from lowest to highest.
We’re going to organize our thoughts about the upcoming season as it relates to each player into categories:
- Reasonable Expectations
- Why You Should Get Excited
- Potential Pitfalls
With that out of the way, we turn our attention to the third of the four freshmen on the roster, and the third of three previews of a freshman from Michigan......
Freshman - #5 - Guard - 6’3” - 170 lb. - Detroit, Michigan
Greg Elliott rounds out the trio of freshman, all AAU teammates, coming into Marquette from the Detroit area. Elliott is a combo guard listed at 6’3” and 170 pounds. However, he will play longer than 6’3” as he boasts a 6’6.5” wingspan equipped with go-go gadget arms. The 170 lbs. may be a tad misleading as well, as I would bet MU strength coach, Todd Smith, has already added to that frame in the short time he has been on campus. Elliott has already added 5 lbs according to the 165 lbs. he was listed at in HS, so believing the strength and conditioning program continues to benefit him is not a stretch.
The first time I watched video of Elliott, back when Marquette was recruiting him, his overall physical makeup reminded me of Jamal Crawford. (I love player comps) Speaking of his recruitment, it was quite an interesting one. Greg exploded onto the scene during his senior year at East English Village High School. He went from playing in front of a crowd of coaches from UW-Milwaukee, U of Detroit, and Rice to seeing faces like Marquette’s Steve Wojciechowski, Providence’s Ed Cooley, and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo in the stands. Marquette was the first of the three bigger programs to offer Elliott, and his admiration of MU’s family atmosphere, along with his close friendship with now-fellow MU freshman Jamal Cain landed him in Milwaukee. A larger role as a senior at East English Village allowed Greg to showcase his talents and gain confidence as the unquestioned leader of his squad. His recruiting profile shows him with a 247 Rank of 158, with a composite score of 221. Greg Elliott may be one of the most underrated prospects in the 2017 recruiting class. His late arrival on the scene has an effect on those relatively low rankings, but his talent ceiling is trending in the right direction.
I’d like to turn your attention to this one segment of an article on Endless Motor, which is an interview/scouting report on Elliott after his commitment to Marquette.
MESSAGE TO MARQUETTE NATION
EM: What type of game are you bringing to Marquette when you step on the court next year?
GE: Detroit PSL [Public School League] basketball. Tough, gritty basketball and play with a chip on my shoulder like no one is better than me.
I think this quote from Greg Elliott perfectly sums up what to expect from him in his freshman campaign.
His playing time will be earned on the defensive end of the floor. His length and athletic abilities should allow him to guard three different positions. Wojo put an emphasis on a recruiting class full of long, athletic players that would have the ability to come in and instantly improve a porous defense. Most of his playing time will coincide with giving Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey breathers on the bench. I think he will always be on the floor with one of the two aforementioned players. This will be a nice role for him to help cover up the defensive deficiencies of Howard and Rowsey, and be able to guard the opposition’s best perimeter player. On the offensive end, Elliott boasts an above average jump shot that ranges beyond the three-point arc. In high school, he proved to be a good ballhandler with great ability to get in the lane and either finish at the basket or distribute to open teammates. However, I’m not sure that aspect of his game is ready to be effective at the college level. In his freshman campaign, I think we can expect to see a 3 & D role from Greg Elliott. If he can bring his Detroit grit to Milwaukee, he should be able to carve out a nice niche in Marquette’s rotation, and get 10-15 minutes/game.
Why You Should Get Excited
As I mentioned earlier, it seems as though Greg is only scratching the surface of his potential. You see this all the time in high school, college, and even the pros. Something just clicks for a player, and they are able to gain confidence and reach their full potential. [Editor’s Note - See also: Butler, Jimmy] If Elliott can fulfill his defensive role with the team, he will gain confidence in his ability to play on this level and the coaching staff will also have to consider expanding his role. Height is definitely something that Marquette lacks from the guard position right now. His height and physical stature bring a different dimension to this backcourt, and his skillset could allow for an added dimension to the Marquette offense. Greg Elliott is part of one of the most athletic Marquette recruiting classes to date. Elliott has the potential to be a complete two-way player. Powerful dunks, mid-range jumper, three-point touch, skilled ballhandler, lockdown defender…these are all things Greg has the POTENTIAL to bring to the table. Athletic basketball players are fun to watch and have boatloads of potential. I get excited about watching an athletic basketball player with big potential. You should be excited too!
Greg Elliott is still a skinny dude. Can his junkyard dog mentality make up for the physical play of the Big East? Look, Greg Elliott’s main role as a freshman is going to be to defend. There are scenarios where Greg finds himself buried on the end of the bench…
- He fails to pick up on the defensive scheme. Defense is not all about how long and tough you are, there is also a mental aspect to it. If Greg has a hard time with defensive calls and rotations, he may become too big of a liability to have on the floor.
- He fails to adjust to the speed and physicality of Big East basketball. It is going to take some time for him to morph his body into a stronger frame.
- His offensive mistakes outweigh his defensive play. If Greg begins turning the ball over and becomes an offensive liability, it may get to the point where it doesn’t pay to have him out there just for defense.
- Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey are going to play A LOT. Barring foul trouble, these two should each be on the court for 30 minutes/game. That means there is not many extra minutes to go around to other guards. Haanif Cheatham and Sacar Anim are both more than capable of being good perimeter defenders and could end up vacuuming up all of the minutes that could end up going Elliott’s way.
Overall, I think Greg Elliott will have an opportunity to earn playing time this year as a freshman. As I stated, I think he is underrated when it comes to his recruiting rankings. If he can prove that he can hold down his role, he will earn more playing time in the future. In the meantime, it is important that he makes the weight room his second home. If he can gain experience on the court in a defined role as a freshman, while also gaining muscle mass during that time, I think the “Why To Get Excited” section should write itself going into his sophomore season.