Junior guard Haanif Cheatham has left the Marquette basketball program. That leaves Marquette with only 8 scholarship players eligible until Harry Froling becomes eligible for next semester, presuming that Ike Eke will remain on his plan to redshirt the 2017-18 season.
This also means that Marquette has one more open scholarship for the 2018 class.
Well, first things first. Here’s what the scholarship picture looks like for the future, presuming that Eke will not play this season.
I really don’t think that open fall of 2018 scholarship will be unused. I highly doubt the Golden Eagles grab another undergraduate transfer, as they project to be one of the better teams with their current lineup next year in the Big East, and “adding for the future” in terms of an undergrad transfer probably isn’t in the plans. It is possible that Marquette could take on a transfer at semester break as they have one spot open right now, but again, it seems unlikely.
More than likely I’d expect a graduate transfer, probably at the point guard or shooting guard position. Point guard is much more of a need, or at least a true ballhandler/slasher/distributor, specifically one with a little bit of size to play next to Markus Howard and Sam Hauser. Greg Elliott has looked good so far, and he’ll probably fill the need for a lanky perimeter defender alongside Sacar Anim and Jamal Cain, but Greg hasn’t exactly flashed top level distributor/ballhandler skills, although it’s early in his career. Marquette also has Brendan Bailey coming in on the wing, who was a shooter in high school and has spent the last two years on a Mormon mission. How he fits into the lineup is a question mark, as he hasn’t really played organized basketball in two years, but considering he stands around 6’7” or 6’8”, I don’t really see him fitting into the backcourt as a primary ballhandler and passer.
Because I think the grad transfer is the most likely, it’s hard to see who graduates and moves in November or early December, so it’s hard to speculate a name right now. It’s also important to point out that if this is the option that the coaching staff decides to go with, odds are it is not going to be a player that immediately makes you jump out of your chair in excitement. It’s going to be a caretaker-type player at best. Guys who are going to be a redshirt senior star at their current school aren’t necessarily up and leaving just because they’ve finished their degree.
This brings us to the option of heading back into the high school recruiting waters, and if Marquette does pick up an incoming freshman, one would have to think that they make the biggest run at Courtney Ramey. The point guard from the St. Louis area was originally going to attend Louisville, but he decided that he would not become a Cardinal after the FBI started kicking in doors. Marquette made contact with Ramey and his people immediately after the announcement that he was re-opening things, but that was nearly two months ago and nothing has seemed to progress from there. There are two caveats there: First, Marquette was focused on Quentin Grimes right up until early November, and second, Ramey broke his wrist about a week and a half ago, so there haven’t been any games where the coaches could go watch him play. Ramey is ranked #37 in the country according to 247 Sports’ Composite system and #8 amongst point guards.
Perusing 247’s 2018 point guard and shooting guard rankings, only a few names really jump out as being potential targets. Marquette had contact and interest with Tyger Campbell, a still uncommitted top 15 point guard from the La Lumiere School in Indiana. You may remember Campbell from his brief commitment to DePaul after the Blue Demons hired his high school coach to be one of Dave Leitao’s assistants. Jahvon Quinerly, a former Arizona commit who dropped after the FBI investigation (and who still has potential allegations hanging over his head) is a top 5 point guard, but he seems to be favoring Villanova once he gets the FBI probe sorted out.
The top shooting guard in the nation, Romeo Langford, is still uncommitted, but he seems to be eyeing Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, and Vanderbilt (I would not have guessed that last one either) as potential landing spots. Very few top 20 shooting guards remain uncommitted, but #19 Devonaire Doutrive and #20 Bryce Wills both seem to be heading to West Coast schools.
As for combo guards (hide your eyes Marquette fans, Quentin Grimes is #2 on this list), Anfernee Simons (a former Louisville commit as well) has no school, but given his current age, he has been ruled eligible for the NBA draft come June and I doubt he passes on that opportunity. Marquette did reach out to him at roughly the same time as Ramey, but that has not gone anywhere notable since then. The rest of the combo guards seem to be committed already, except for a few 3 star recruits outside the top 10 combo guards. Not to detract from their ability to play the game of basketball, but I’d think Wojo goes for a grad transfer over a recruit listed outside the top 200 with this scholarship.
Of course, I could be totally wrong. Maybe Coach Wojo thinks his backcourt is set. Khavon Moore is an uncommitted small forward hovering around the top 50 that Marquette had shown interest in, and they could always go chase him even though there’s a log jam on the wing/at forward spots next year. Zion Williamson hasn’t committed yet, so we can always dream.
In all reality, we really can’t predict where Marquette will go with this, as the scholarship just officially opened yesterday and we have yet to see exactly what needs addressing come next year (hell, let’s worry about this year first). I’m not a betting man, but if I had to put down money, I’d wait and see what grad transfers are out there in April/May and find one that gels with the system and can really be a distributor for this team in 2018-2019 season. I highly doubt we see this scholarship get taken anytime soon.
In closing, I wish the best for Haanif and hope that he can return to the basketball court soon, even if it’s not in a Marquette jersey. I loved watching him play, and I’m sad to see him go. All the best, man.