The 2019-20 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 freshmen, then the lone graduate transfer, followed by the two guys who were on the team but sat out all of 2018-19 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 first in our series of previews, as we start with the freshmen, going in alphabetical order by last name....
Freshman - #12 - Guard - 6’4” - 210 pounds - Valencia, California
Dexter Akanno, or simply “Dex”, is a 6-4, 210 pound combo guard originally from Valencia, California. He spent his senior year playing at Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey. Akanno had success throughout high school with a season of 13.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists as a junior in Valencia before transferring to Blair Academy. During his senior year at Blair, he averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. He was also an honorable mention all-league honoree while helping his team win the Mid-Atlantic Prep title in 2019.
Relative to his physical abilities, we should probably point out that Akanno did not have a 247 Sports page back in late July. Miraculously, now that he’s committed to play for Marquette, he suddenly does have a page. What he doesn’t have, though, is any kind of ranking or rating relative to the rest of his 2019 classmates. I imagine that will change as the 2018-19 school year goes on, but for now, Akanno is something of a diamond in the rough in terms of a prospect.
This leads me to believe that Dex is a late bloomer with no recruitment page until after his commitment. However, Marquette wasn’t the only program interested in Akanno as Virginia Tech, New Mexico, and some Ivy league schools were also in the mix.
Here’s a couple highlight videos to get you started.
That one’s from 2017 and is eight minutes long but it shows the wide-range of talents that Dex brings to the court. I suggest you mute it to avoid the annoying music in the background. Oh, did I put that after the video and you’ve already clicked on it and have been subjected to it? Sorry/not sorry.
Here’s a more recent one from February of 2018:
He was also “chosen” by Steve Nash in one of his episodes of Give and Go so that’s pretty neat. Anytime you get to work out with a Hall of Famer you’re probably a pretty good ball player.
First impressions gives me the sense that he’s a Sacar Anim type of player that has length and can attack in various ways. Here is an excerpt from a story from 247 Sports back in November of last year when Akanno committed to Marquette, apparently based on the video with the annoying music:
Akanno seems to play bigger than 6-4 as he can block shots and rebound. He is strong with the ball and is known for his ability to drive into the paint for points but can also kick out. He seems unselfish that way and strong with the ball as he can kick out and reach all his teammates anywhere in the half court. Akanno can hit the open jumper and has range out to about 20 feet.
I expect Akanno to be a dynamic player that can get some playing time when Sacar Anim Brenden Bailey, or Koby McEwen need some rest. I also see him being used in early season non-conference games when Marquette is up big on opponents. He’s the definition of a great combo guard with ball-handling skills and the versatility to finish at the rim or shoot the jumper.
Dex has the defensive agility and scoring ability to be an asset on Steve Wojciechowski’s squad. It’s just a matter of how Wojciechowski will use him especially in early season buy games.
Reasons To Get Excited
I mentioned Dex’s defensive agility...it turns out he’s got the potential to be a very exciting player on the defensive end. With a 6’8” wingspan (Remember, he’s 6’4”) and at 210 pounds, he provides length and strength that can result in a solid on-ball defender, and Marquette has not had multiple backcourt options in that department in the last few years. Here’s what Akanno had to say in an interview with the Journal Sentinel last year when asked about being an intriguing prospect on defense:
“I can see how people can say that. I played pretty good defense this summer (on the AAU circuit). But I honestly think getting to the basket (on offense) is probably my strongest point. But if they see me as (a defensive player), I’m going to take that to heart and I’m going to lock the other team’s best player up.
He may see himself as more of an offensive weapon but he’s willing to lock down the other team’s best player which gives you an idea about his confidence defensively.
I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do early on for Marquette. It seems he can finish at the rim, shoot the jumper, or shoot the three pretty well. He’s got the physical stature to be a darn good defender too. He may have been a diamond in the rough when he committed, but he’s had all summer (thanks, European trip!) to sharpen the rough edges and get well-acquainted with Wojciechowski’s system. Not to mention he got a personal workout with the one and only Steve Nash and likely got superpowers from simply being in his presence.
Speaking of that workout, here’s what Dex had to say (to the JS again) about that amazing experience:
That one training session changed the way I look at basketball and the way I look at life. It just shows that I can give back, too.
Anytime a newcomer comes in, you wonder how they’ll fit, whether it’s the culture of the team or the rotation on the court. I believe Dex is one of the most multi-talented freshmen we’ve had in a while. However, I worry that he will be at the end of the pecking order when it comes to playing time this season. Just think about all the players that are also combo guards, or at the very least play guard or wing: Markus Howard, Sacar Anim, Brenden Bailey, Koby McEwen, Greg Elliott, Jamal Cain, and Symir Torrence. Torrence might redshirt this season (shouts to the whiteboard) so that leaves six guys that are ahead of Dex in the rotation, and one of them is a preseason All-American. There simply may not be enough room for him to get consistent playing time. And without that, it’s hard for him to develop and improve his game.
It will be up to Wojciechowski to find how Akanno best fits in to the rotation. Is he better off coming in for McEwen and playing the point? Or is he more dangerous subbing in for Anim or Bailey in the 2-3 role and slashing to the basket? These are the questions that Wojciechowski should have answered by the time Big East play tips-off. My concern is that he won’t get enough playing time early on to really figure this out.