As we approach the nectar of conference play in college basketball, teams are starting to realize who they truly are. Aside from the occasional Georgetown, pretty much everyone has been tested and knows its strengths and weaknesses. Some of these weaknesses are addressed through midseason transfers, while others are like that baby elephant in Planet Earth that is lost without its mother in the middle of a desert and no hope in sight.
Either way, some fans probably have internally wished that there was a way to fix a small need via trade, which brings us to our delightful though experiment for the day: What if there was a college basketball trade deadline and, more importantly, How would Marquette deal with the deadline?
This is your fault, Finals Week.
We’ll establish some ground rules. First, the deadline is January 15th because that’s my half birthday. A supplementary reason could be that conference play is heating up and teams will generally know where they stand in terms of the NCAA Tournament, but mainly because of my half birthday.
Second, you can trade future scholarship spots like a future draft pick. I’m not going to see what other teams have empty scholarships because you, the loyal reader, are not worth that effort. I had the free time to write this article OR figure out the scholarship situation for 12 other teams, not both. If I do trade a scholarship spot, it will be from Marquette’s end. I will consider spots currently occupied by committed recruits as “filled”, so Marquette has one open spot next year, as an example.
As you can probably tell from the concept here, we don’t really care about things like “transfer redshirt years” or “scholarship limits” for this. Anyone who complains about violating those sacrosanct NCAA policies in the comments or on Twitter will be rounded up and shot into the sun. Can’t you just have fun for 10 minutes?
Those are the basics. Now let’s break down what Marquette will probably want out of a trade. This is open to interpretation. I very much welcome differing opinions here, but this is mine: Marquette should be a soft sell. This isn’t the White Sox strategy last year where they traded every player with a pulse, but I think they should look to unload a current role player for someone younger that could impact the team for years to come.
The team next year will have a lot of size and we will presume that only Andrew Rowsey departing. What I would be concerned about is distribution. Markus Howard would benefit his long term professional potential by becoming a distributor and I do think he’d be an excellent one for next year’s team. I also think he’s much more valuable off the ball. I think it would benefit the team to get a younger point guard to start games, allow Howard to spend the majority of the time off the ball, and be a distributor. I potentially see a logjam at the 4/5 positions, so I think building a trade around one of them could be a good starting point.
I also don’t want to sacrifice the team now. I would consider Rowsey to be virtually untouchable because of this, even though he’s a senior. Howard and Sam Hauser are the same, obviously. My price for Greg Elliott would be extremely high, given his years of eligibility left and his current contributions. Harry Froling could be intriguing to teams with his offensive potential, but would also be risky investment for another team based on his numbers from last year. Jamal Cain, Ike Eke, or Theo John could be add-ons if Marquette is looking for a splash point guard. Matt Heldt could be a great addition for a team that needs just a little bit of size and could take a flyer on his offensive potential. Finally, my price point on Ed Morrow might be higher than most, but I’d consider him a valuable asset for next year.
That’s what we’re working with to set up Marquette’s end of the deal. That brings us to finding a player we want to mix into the roster immediately. I used T-Rank’s player stats page to pin down what I wanted. It’s an insanely easy tool if you want to find a player yourself with different filters. I want a solid point guard, sophomore preference, who can defend. I also want the ole ball n chain to stop nagging me about visiting the in-laws, am I right, fellas??
I’ll be less picky about turnovers, since no one else on next year’s team will be expected to have a huge turnover problem. I’m also looking for a good team with a need at the 4/5 positions, since they would be the most likely to want what Marquette has.
With a max height of 6’3”, minimum minutes percentage at 30, minimum assist rate at 20, maximum turnover rate at 18 and on a solid team with a need down low, here is my list of candidates:
- Brandon Averette, So, Oklahoma State
- Fiifi Aidoo, So, Grand Canyon. I think this is Freddy Adu giving himself a fake name so he can play college basketball without anyone noticing.
- Shelton Mitchell, Jr, Clemson
- Brad Daviso-[is ripped to shreds by a pack of rabid wolves trained by Marquette fans for some reason]
- Chris Darrington, Jr, Tennessee
Grand Canyon? Yes, Grand Canyon. They’re in contention to win the WAC. I’m interested in Fiifi mainly because of his nickname potential (He’s Finnish, so obviously The Finnisher is the top choice), but also because he’s part of a logjam that is the Grand Canyon point guards. He comes off the bench as a defense-first guy, according to the two articles I skimmed, but also has an assist rate north of 20. The team has only one player 6’10” or taller and no one on the team can shoot threes. That would be a potential Harry Froling target, but I would additionally want a stopgap power forward for this year that they don’t seem to have. Plus GCU’s 348th ranked SOS makes me a little hesitant to pursue someone who isn’t making jaws drop.
Chris Darrington doesn’t play much. He’s listed on KenPom as their third point guard, but is solidly efficient when he’s in. The junior college transfer doesn’t appear to be extraordinary nor poor at anything for that role. The Vols are horrific at hitting twos, so they’d need someone to help with that. They could also use a new athletic director. Zing! #TopicalReference
Shelton “Not Sheldon” Mitchell is near the ceiling for what Marquette could acquire. He’s a starter on a Top 40 team and is really good at all facets of offense. The team could use a big shooter like Froling, but they’d also probably need another scholarship or even a freshman like Cain with a little more certainty than a recruit.
Finally, there’s Brandon Averette, who is basically a robot created in Brad Underwood’s lab designed to piss everyone off. Look at this dunk at :14. Short dunkers are my favorite players ever. He’s 5’11”, but I made a height exception for him because he was recruited as an intense defender. His assist rate is up there with Rowsey’s and doesn’t turn the ball over. He is a backup to senior Kendall Smith and this looks like a team in win-now mode, with 2 other important seniors in Jeffry Carroll and Mitchell Solomon on the team playing in a weaker Big 12. This seems like the perfect fit for the next two years at Marquette, but would also be costly. I don’t know if Froling and Cain would be enough immediate help to satisfy their needs. The Cowboys would probably want Rowsey for that.
Chris Darrington might be the way to go. The offense really just needs another distributor for next year, even if MU head coach Steve Wojciechowski decides to start Howard at the point. With a small team that can’t make anything inside the arc, I could see Rick Barnes looking to Matt Heldt as a solid, immediate help there. For as little as he’s been used (just 64% of MU’s minutes to this point), The Milkman has been the 7th most efficient player in the country so far. Increasing his efficiency will still likely mean that he’s at least an average scorer, which is exactly what Tennessee needs. I would maybe try to sell Theo John and a scholarship first, since the Vols seem to be a team on the rise like the 2017 Yankees. But I think the final offer would end up being Matt Heldt for Chris Darrington, straight up.
What say you, Rocky Top Talk?