We got a change to the 2019-20 Marquette men’s basketball roster on Tuesday afternoon, as Ben Steele of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Utah graduate transfer Jayce Johnson has committed to play for the Golden Eagles next season. As a graduate transfer, he is eligible to play immediately, but he will only be available for the one season. Johnson chose the Golden Eagles over Nebraska.
Breaking #mubb news: Marquette has landed 7-foot Utah grad transfer Jayce Johnson, according to a source. He averaged 7.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last season for the Utes. Eligible immediately.— Ben Steele (@BenSteeleMJS) May 7, 2019
Johnson is listed on the Utah roster from last season at 7’0” and 235 pounds. I believe that makes Johnson MU’s first 7-footer since the days of Youssoupha Mbao. He saw action in 91 games in three seasons for the Utes, earning 32 starts along the way, 25 of which were this past season. He averaged 5.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks in the 91 appearances, but posted career highs of 7.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game as a junior in 2018-19.
If you like things with a little bit more of an analytical bent, the former top 100 prospect is a superb rebounder and a pretty good shot blocker. He ranked #27 in the country per KenPom.com in Offensive Rebounding Rate this past season, and #23 in the defensive version of that. In Pac-12 play, he was top in OR% and second best in the league in DR%. That’s pretty great. Johnson ranked #142 in the country in Block Rate, and when you consider that he’ll be sharing time with Theo John and his #17 Block Rate at center next season, that’s a pretty formidable inside presence for the Golden Eagles.
Speaking of John, that’s where we have a very big similarity between the two new teammates. In 2018-19, John averaged 7.4 fouls per 40 minutes, which limited him to appearing in only 48.7% of the available minutes for Marquette. Johnson wasn’t much better at 5.4 fouls per 40 minutes, and that plus recovery from a foot injury limited him to appearing in only 50.9% of Utah’s minutes.
I think it’s safe to see Johnson at worst as an insurance policy for Theo John in 2019-20. The two of them together should do a wonderful job defending the rim. The question then becomes what happens to Ed Morrow in the rotation. It seems that starts to limit the available minutes, but there’s a couple of things at play. First, there’s the fact that Joey Hauser isn’t on the team any more, so that’s nearly 30 minutes per game to be filled up somehow. Second, the original word on Morrow’s transfer from Nebraska is that he didn’t want to be stuck only playing center. That’s clearly what he was doing for Marquette in 2018-19, so perhaps Johnson’s addition will allow MU head coach Steve Wojciechowski to fulfill a promise to the Chicago native in terms of how he’ll be used on the floor.
Luckily for us, Marquette is going to Spain and France in August, so we’ll get an idea of what the coaching staff has cooked up for the rotation long before Marquette Madness in October.
Here’s a freshly updated scholarship chart now that Johnson is a part of the team. There’s not much of a change, as he’ll only be playing the one year as a Golden Eagle.