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2019-20 Marquette Basketball Player Preview: #10 Symir Torrence

How will the top 80 guard factor into Marquette’s game plan this season?

Symir Torrence

The 2019-20 college basketball season is right around the corner, so let’s get into the Marquette Golden Eagles men’s 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 second of the two freshmen on the roster this year.......

Symir Torrence

Freshman - #10 - Guard - 6’3” - 195 pounds - Syracuse, NY

Of the two freshmen on the roster this season, Symir Torrence is the more heralded one. The Syracuse, New York, native comes to the Golden Eagles as the #75 ranked player in the Class of 2019 according to the 247 Sports Composite system. He ranked #94 in 247’s internal system, #98 by ESPN, and #90 by Rivals. As a prospect, Torrence is labeled as a combo guard, where 247 ranks him as the 11th best positional prospect in the country, and the #2 prospect in the state of New York this year. Technically, he’s the #1 prospect coming out of Vermont, but that’s because Torrence comes to Marquette by way of Vermont Academy.

Torrence was originally a Class of 2020 prospect when he committed to Marquette back in January of this year. At the time, he was ranked #51 in the country in that recruiting class, and the #5 combo guard in the country. That seems pretty good. He transferred to Vermont Academy after starting his prep career in his hometown of Syracuse, and at that time, moved from the Class of 2019 to the Class of 2020, as Vermont Academy would have allowed him to continue with a post-graduate year. Stepping back to 2019 for Torrence isn’t a situation where he’s in college early like Markus Howard was, as Torrence turned 18 back in early June.

As a senior, Torrence averaged 19.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 5.8 assists — yes, a double-double with rebounds as a guard — as his team advanced to the New England prep school Class AA semifinals. That’s an improvement from 17.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.1 steals in his first year at the academy, and he was named team MVP in both years.

Reasonable Expectations

I saved one thing from the overview of Torrence to use for this section. One of the neat things about 247 Sports is that they’re archiving every school’s top signed prospects since the Class of 2000. Everyone from that year on has a ranking and a rating, and then they’re sorted by school. For Marquette, Henry Ellenson is #1, Vander Blue is #2, and so on and so forth. Symir Torrence is, by this measure, the 13th best prospect to enroll at Marquette in this century. I know that sounds good, but I’m going to caution you for a second as to what that means: That has him slotted between Juan Anderson at #12 and Lazar Hayward at #14.

As a freshman for Buzz Williams, Anderson averaged 0.7 points and 0.8 rebounds in 4.5 minutes per game in 24 appearances.

As a freshman for Tom Crean, Hayward averaged 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game in 34 appearances. That does include 16 starts, though.

Is Torrence highly regarded as a prospect? Yep. That doesn’t mean that he can contribute a lot right away though. Marquette’s history over the past two decades is littered with players ranked even better than Torrence who did not make a major impact as a freshman. That’s okay! If he can find a way into head coach Steve Wojciechowski’s rotation for the season, then he’s going to get his feet wet at the Division 1 level and that will end up paying dividends down the road for the Golden Eagles.

Why You Should Get Excited

Let’s be honest about it: There’s a chance that Torrence is actually underrated. He went from a top 50 prospect when he made the move to reclassify — he was #44 in the country in 2020 on the day it was announced by Marquette — to a top 80 prospect in the recruiting class merely by reclassifying to 2019. Part of the issue is that the recruiting analysts had spent their time comparing Torrence to Class of 2020 prospects for a good long stretch, ever since he had moved to Vermont Academy back in 2017. Torrence officially made the move back to Class of 2019 in late May, when the evaluations for that class were essentially completed. Sticking Torrence where he is — the back end of the top 100 — might be a combination of “well, he has to be top 100” and “I have no idea where to put him” from the various recruiting services.

When the move to 2019 was announced, I noted that porting Torrence’s 247 Composite rating directly from 2020 to 2019 would have made him the #47 prospect in the country in the class of 2019. I know that’s not how that works or is supposed to work or however you want to categorize it. However, we can’t ignore the possibility that Marquette is getting a top 50 prospect in the backcourt and no one’s really talking about it. If you think about Torrence as #47 in the country instead of #75...... Torrence becomes the third highest ranked freshman in the Big East this season, trailing only Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Bryan Antoine. Both of those young men are at Villanova, and Antoine is recovering from shoulder surgery from right about the same time that Torrence reclassified.

Am I saying that the Golden Eagles have a dark horse candidate for Big East Freshman of the Year? Yep.

Between the struggles that we watched Markus Howard have with turnovers as Marquette’s only reliable ballhandler, the question marks about Koby McEwen’s reliability in the same department as he makes the jump from the Mountain West to the Big East, and Greg Elliott’s overall general health at this point (sorry Greg, but you know we have to say this until we see you at 100%), there’s a spot in Marquette’s rotation as primary ballhandler to help balance out the flow of everything on the floor. Torrence is absolutely in a position to grab onto that spot and never let it go ever again. If he does, and it’s to Marquette’s overall team benefit, then that’s just going to jam Torrence up towards the top of the discussion for best freshman in the league this year.

Can I give you a blind comparison? It’s not one that will aim Torrence at Big East Freshman of the Year, but it’s one that I think is a valid point to make given the stack up of combo guards on the roster in front of him this season.

7.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 23.7 minutes per game, and shooting splits of 43%/44%/76%

Anyone want to take a guess on that? I’ll listen to the new Sturgill Simpson album while I wait.

Are we back? Okay.

That’s Travis Diener’s freshman year, where he was playing second fiddle at point guard to Cordell Henry in 2001-02. That team also happened to have a lightning rod of a guard in the backcourt, too, just like Marquette has Markus Howard this year.

Potential Pitfalls

There’s two variations on this topic. One is the most obvious one that we have to talk about first. It’s the white board.

At the end of the day, we can’t ignore the fact that in late April, Steve Wojciechowski and his staff were seriously considering Symir Torrence to come in this year and redshirt. Greg Elliott’s ankle injury a month after Torrence made his announcement may change the calculus on that, of course. However, if Elliott is fully recovered — we’re right at the four full months window on his 3-4 month projected recovery — and able to contribute in the manner in which the staff was expecting in late April, then that makes us ask what’s up with Torrence.

The other angle on it is arguably the worse of the two. What if Marquette doesn’t quite find the rotation of guards that they need and Torrence ends up playing just a wee bit all season long because he can’t push through the core of Howard, McEwen, and Elliott? We can’t forget about Sacar Anim and Dexter Akanno in there as well, as they’ll be taking up wing minutes, too. Given their various physical attributes, all five of those guys have a claim to at least rotation minutes this season, and if that’s the case, where does that leave Torrence?

Don’t forget that Wojciechowski’s early season expectations for his own roster have a tendency to get thrown down the drain by the time we hit December, especially when it comes to his freshmen. Remember “Brendan Bailey, Opening Night Starter” last year? Bailey started the first three games of his collegiate career and then didn’t play at least 10 minutes in three straight games again until late January and didn’t turn into a regular rotation player until March. You finish with an air of “hey, maybe there’s something there” but no one’s thinking about that freshman campaign with a mindset of success. Given the depth of experience and physical size in front of him, that’s a possible future for Torrence that we can’t quite ignore at this point.