With just four days left before the start of the 2020-21 college basketball season, YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles got some very good news recently. On Saturday evening, the men’s basketball team announced that Jose Perez has received a transfer waiver from the NCAA. As a result, the Gardner-Webb transfer will not be sitting out this season as expected but instead will be eligible to play for the Golden Eagles immediately.
#mubb - Jose Perez - @showout_zayy15 - a transfer from Gardner-Webb, has received waiver from the NCAA and is eligible to play in 2020-21. Averaged 15.1 ppg. first two years at GWU. pic.twitter.com/jyuDiU2YGv— Marquette Basketball (@MarquetteMBB) November 22, 2020
As a fun bonus, the video clip includes a look at Marquette’s new Championship Blue uniforms.
Perez, a native of The Bronx, played for two years at Gardner Webb. He became a full time starter for the Bulldogs nine games into his freshman year and ended up averaging 15.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game in 57 appearances for them. That includes a 19/3/3 in Gardner-Webb’s game against eventual champions Virginia in the 2019 NCAA tournament. Perez ranked in the top 500 in the country in assist rate in both of his two seasons at Gardner-Webb, and was in the top 400 in both fouls called (good!) and fouls drawn (also good!) in both of his two campaigns. He struggled to shoot from distance as a sophomore, connecting on just 25.6% of his threes after a 37% performance as a freshman. He was a pretty high usage player in both seasons as a Bulldog, so we will have to wait to see how he fits into what Steve Wojciechowski is trying to do with the Golden Eagles without Markus Howard in the lineup.
It’s unclear exactly how the sudden addition of Perez will impact the Golden Eagles. I mean, let’s be honest: we didn’t even schedule a player preview for Perez on this here internet website because the general sense of it was that he wasn’t going to play this year. No word from anyone anywhere about even the possibility that Marquette was pursuing a waiver for Perez, and yet here we are.
In addition to that angle of it, the always on the ball Ben Steele was at a recent Marquette scrimmage at the McGuire Center and was able to ferret out something rather interesting: Redshirt freshman guard Dexter Akanno is recovering from, in head coach Steve Wojciechowski’s words, a “COVID-related illness.” That’s not confirmation that Akanno was the specific reason why the Golden Eagles recently had to shut down for two weeks because of a positive coronavirus test. It is a pretty big hint that is the case, though, and Akanno will need to be cleared by MU’s medical staff for a return to action and need to get spooled back up towards 100% conditioning before he can really contribute for Marquette this season.
With that in mind, Marquette was looking to be a little shorthanded in the backcourt to start the season. The activation of Perez changes all of that. I’m going to save any serious thought about what he can add to the team for what will be an admittedly somewhat hastily written Player Preview that will go up at some point before tipoff on Wednesday night. Needless to say, no matter what, this is good news for Marquette, and that would be the case even without the limitations for Elliott and Akanno.
One last thing to do here, and that’s update the scholarship chart.
Since Perez is immediately eligible, that means 2020-21 will be his third season of NCAA competition. He will now be a senior in 2021-22 and has the bonus COVID-19 year available to him in 2022-23. That slightly alters the calculations for Marquette’s recruiting. Now Perez and Greg Elliott will be seniors together in 2021-22, and so recruiting guards and wings for the Class of 2022 becomes slightly more important than it was already. It’s still a little early to say anything one way or another for 2022 prospects, but the Golden Eagles have a bunch of irons already in the fire. Their most recent 2022 scholarship offer was to a guard, so I think we can safely say that the coaches are well aware of their needs.