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2018-19 Marquette Basketball Player Preview: #13 Ike Eke

Will a year in the program to prepare help the raw prospect develop?

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Ike Eke
How much action will we see from Ike Eke this season?

The 2018-19 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 MU’s lone true freshman, then the lone graduate transfer, followed by the three players who redshirted last season for one reason or another, 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 raw prospect from Detroit by way of Nigeria who’s had a full year to develop in Marquette’s program...

Ike Eke

Redshirt Freshman - #13 - 6’9” - 220 pounds - Lagos, Nigeria

Of all of the players on Marquette’s roster this year, Ike Eke provides probably the biggest mystery in terms of how he’ll look on a basketball court against collegiate competition. Eke, Joey Hauser and Brendan Bailey are the 2018-19 team’s true newcomers, but Bailey and especially Hauser were put fairly extensively through the AAU and mixtape machine as high schoolers. While Eke had exposure to that too, his commitment was far less heralded than the others, or even his fellow classmates like Jamal Cain and Theo John, and he’s only been playing basketball for five years. Eke was ranked 361st by 247 Sports when he committed to Marquette, and he didn’t have an easy access point like a well-known basketball playing dad or older brother.

Eke’s redshirt last year wasn’t necessarily surprising, since his path to a legitimate role looked tenuous at best and again, the whole raw prospect thing. Then came a concerning note in mid-January from Ben Steele of the Journal Sentinel, that Eke had had back surgery. Coach Steve Wojciechowski said Eke’s back had “really been bothering him.” Back injuries, traditionally, are not good for big guys. That said, it doesn’t seem to have had any lingering effects, as Eke tweeted a video of him breaking the Marquette vertical jump record in August.

Reasonable Expectations

His Marquette debut, for one. Beyond that, it’s hard to project just how Eke fits into Marquette’s rotation this year. His ideal position is either power forward or center purely given his size, and with the depth and talent at those positions he probably is more likely to see time as a center. Of Marquette’s 12 scholarship players, he’s a good bet to play the least amount of minutes this season once (if?) Greg Elliott returns from his thumb injury. It’s a challenge to distribute significant minutes to 10 players, let alone 12. It may be a long shot for Eke to carve out a consistent role once the conference season begins.

Reasons To Get Excited

I mean, have you seen the man jump? That video of him breaking the vertical record is pretty much all I need to know I want to see him slam down some fast break dunks. Need more fun watching Ike jump? Here’s a video from 2016 where he yams explosively. There’s a couple of nice rim rockers in this video too.

On top of his superior athletic ability, he also visually appears to be quite strong for someone who recently turned 20 years old. Eke, John and Ed Morrow should add significant toughness to a Marquette front court that hasn’t had a lot of spine to it in recent years.

Potential Pitfalls

It’s not clear whether Eke’s basketball skills are up to the collegiate level at this point in his career. A redshirt year really helped Sacar Anim, but Anim was the 2015 AP high school player of the year in Minnesota, not a guy who started playing hoops at 15. Eke’s other main pitfall is the depth in front of him. Matt Heldt is the team’s veteran leader, John offers a similar athletic skillset with more experience, Morrow is an elite rebounder, Sam Hauser, if he’s still a power forward, is a must-play and Joey Hauser has been getting “chosen one” love from people around the program. It’s not really clear how Eke gets consistent playing time when games get tougher.