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2019-20 Marquette Men’s Basketball Player Preview: #25 Koby McEwen

What can the redshirt junior transfer provide in his first playing season for the Golden Eagles?

NCAA Basketball: Utah State at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

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 Marquette’s traditional sit-out transfer on the roster that’s now eligible to play....

Koby McEwen

Redshirt Junior - Guard - #25 - 6’4” - 205 pounds - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Koby McEwen is originally from good ole CANADA (Hellooo northern neighbors) but comes Marquette via transfer from Utah State. He sat out last year due to transfer rules and enters this year pegged to be one half of Marquette’s starting guard tandem. He was exquisitely consistent in terms of raw stat production with the Aggies, averaging splits of 14.9/5.1/3.1 in 2017 and 15.6/5.4/3.2 in 2018. In his final season, he led Utah State in both rebounds and assists per game. He did this as the primary ball-handler for the Aggies. The assists makes sense but the rebounding...that’ll raise some eyebrows. Koby is also no stranger to awards. He was the Mountain West Freshmen of the Year in 2016 and In 2017 was named to the All Mountain West Third Team. Respectable.

Reasonable Expectations

Koby shares a (slightly altered, spelling-wise) namesake with the greatest assassin of all time, Kobe Bryant. Don’t. Mess. It. Up.

Basically, all that means in the context of this season is being a better complement to Markus Howard than Joseph Chartouny was last year. I am sorry to report that that is not a very high bar to pass. If Koby can be an improvement from Chartouny, I think Marquette fans will be happy. But I believe he can be much more than that.

He’s a proven rebounder and has the potential to be a solid on-ball defender. He’s a 6-4 guard which already gives him an edge over Markus Howard on defense. His athleticism and quickness that he possesses also leads me to believe that he’ll be able to match up well with and/or against Big East guards.

McEwen is a dynamic player that I think will fit in very well with the Golden Eagles. He’s already had a year with the team and a European trip to learn his role and get comfortable playing with his teammates.

Just check out this recent video posted by the Journal Sentinel of Koby talking about how he feels about playing with Markus:

Ooh yes. The Koby and Markus backcourt could be a topic of conversation that catches steam by the time Big East play begins. I love how he said he’s basically comfortable shooting from anywhere. Versatility is just what you want at the guard position. Now he’s just got to go out and prove himself on the court.

Reasons To Get Excited

Speaking of proving himself... well I found this fun highlight video of a game he played his freshmen year at Utah State:

First things first. Note the spelling of his name. I love the mistake...or was it? The most important thing here is that he shows he’s comfortable attacking inside the paint. That can create so many options offensively for the Golden Eagles. Think about it: he can finish at the rim with that lengthy Euro-step; he can dribble drive and kick it out to Markus, Brendan Bailey, or Sacar Anim(who’s a much improved 3-point shooter); he can also play the pick & roll with Ed Morrow, Jayce Johnson, or Theo John to find an open shot or create opportunities for others. The possibilities are endless.

He quietly led the Aggies in rebounds his sophomore year. Now, it might not directly translate to Big East play because the Big East ain’t the MWC, but the potential is there. Depending on the position Koby finds himself on the court, he could be a consistent rebounder for the Golden Eagles game-in and game-out. Someone has to step up in the absence of the Hauser brothers and Koby has it very much in his DNA to do so.

Best case scenario he finds himself second on the team in scoring and the leading assist and rebounding man by the time March rolls around.

Potential Pitfalls

Turnovers, aka Joseph Chartouny’s ultimate downfall a year ago. Any primary ball-handler has to worry and Koby is not exception. He averaged 2.8 and 2.9 turnovers/game in his two seasons at Utah State. This isn’t as bad as Markus’ astronomical 3.9 per game last season, of course. However, due to the outrageous load that Howard carried for Marquette last season, McEwen’s turnover rates at USU (both years were between 19% and 20%) were higher than Howard’s 18.4% last year. I know it’s weird to say “Markus Howard turned the ball over less than you think,” but it is true relative to how much he actually had the ball in his hands. If you think about it in terms of opportunity to turn it over, McEwen has been ever so slightly worse than Howard was last year.

If that continues, that’s going to be a problem. The competition is going to get a little tougher in the Big East so ball security is definitely something Koby will need to focus on early on. In his first exhibition with the Golden Eagles he had four turnovers and two assists. Typically you want a positive assist to turnover ratio...so we’ll call it “not ideal.” The good news is that he’ll have all of non-conference to work on eliminating those unforced errors. If he doesn't...well let’s just say it’s going to be a long season.