For whatever reason, it seems like every Class of 2019 prospect in regular communication with Steve Wojciechowski and his staff has been in a hurry to include Marquette in a cutdown list this week. That trend continued on Saturday when top 20 prospect Nico Mannion had Marquette on his final four list along with Arizona, Duke, and Villanova.
Mannion is currently ranked #17 in the country in the class of 2019 according to 247 Sports’ Composite system. That is pretty impressive, given that Mannion somewhat recently announced that he was changing his classification from 2020 to 2019. He’s listed at 6’3” and 180 pounds, and 247 says he’s the best prospect in the entire state of Arizona and the second best point guard in 2019, trailing only South Carolina native Josiah James.
We should probably talk about his reclassification a little bit. Marquette fans are familiar with the concept, as that’s what Markus Howard did. However, while Howard played most of his freshman year of college as a 17 year old, that won’t be the case for Mannion. He’ll turn 18 in March, meaning he’ll be the same age as virtually every other college freshman wherever he ends up attending college.
It is a little bit of a surprise that Mannion included Marquette in his final four squads. The Golden Eagles were in his top 10 in early June, and MU has had a scholarship offer out to him since May 2017, so it’s not like this has come out of nowhere. However, in late July, Mannion told Rivals’ Eric Bossi that he felt that “Arizona, Duke, and probably Villanova” would make his final list. He also shared at that time that he was starting to hear from Kentucky and North Carolina with some amount of seriousness. Combine the unofficial top three that Mannion created along with the involvement of two new blue bloods in the picture along with Kansas and UCLA sitting out there in his top 10, and well, it seemed like a long shot that we would get to this point at all.
And yet, here we are anyway.
I think it’s safe to say that Marquette is running a clear fourth in the race here, given Mannion’s thoughts about his top three a few weeks ago. However, the Golden Eagles do have an odd advantage in terms of recruiting. His father, Pace Mannion, used to be teammates in the NBA with Thurl Bailey, who is the father of current Marquette freshman Brendan Bailey, and they’ve apparently been friends ever since. I have no indication as to how close the families are these days, given that Pace is clearly no longer doing Utah Jazz broadcasts if his family is living in Arizona while the Baileys reside in the Salt Lake City area, and also no idea how close Brendan and Nico actually are. However, there are worse plans than signing up to play with a family friend on a team that’s fully stocked and loaded for a deep postseason run in your freshman year.
Here’s what I mean by that. This is MU’s scholarship situation right now.
With just Joseph Chartouny and Matt Heldt departing after the 2018-19 season, Marquette will be looking to essentially run it back again in 2019-20 when Mannion would theoretically join the team. That’s a pretty good situation to find yourself in, but then again, so is heading to Villanova or Duke in any season lately. I’m not trying to be mean to Arizona here, but let’s be honest: their future is still a little up in the air after the 2018 recruiting class kind of went up in smoke on them as a result of the FBI investigation.
Mannion goes directly to the top of the list for Marquette priority recruits in 2019, and it’s starting to be a pretty crowded list given that MU has just two scholarships projected to be available. James Bishop has scheduled a visit to Milwaukee in October, while Seth Lundy and Rocket Watts have both included MU in a final list during this past week. Marquette isn’t under any pressure to add impact recruits for 2019 thanks to the roster depth that season, but you’re not going to hear me complain if Mannion or Watts end up choosing the Golden Eagles.