Guys, I’m starting to get the impression that Marquette Golden Eagles head coach Steve Wojciechowski isn’t particularly enamored of the future of his backcourt.
We’ve already identified two guards in the transfer portal that the Golden Eagles have already reached out to so far this offseason: Bryce Aiken and Jamarius Burton. Since then, there have been four more gentlemen who have had Marquette attached to their possible future. Let’s dive in and see what’s what, shall we?
Gonzaga, Iona, Marquette, San Diego State & Seton Hall are the latest to enter the recruitment for Louisville grad-transfer Darius Perry, a source tells @RivalsPortal— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) March 18, 2020
Darius Perry is a 6’2”, 195 pound guard who spent the last three years playing for Louisville. He made 40 starts in 100 appearances, including 26 in 31 for Chris Mack this past season. Perry has career averages of 4.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. Only the assists are misleading as to what kind of a player he was this past year, as he averaged 2.5 in 2019-20. Perry is a career 36% three-point shooter, and he’s raised his shooting percentage and attempts each year for the Cardinals, ending with 2.3 per game at a 39% clip this past season.
That’s the good news. The bad news is he can’t shoot inside the arc and he’s turnover prone. While recording career high minutes this past season, Perry shot just 39% percent on two-pointers, which is very similar to his freshman year numbers. He went 32-for-60 (53%) as a sophomore in 2018-19, which is veering very close to looking like an aberration than anything else. Perry has also never had a turnover rate under 23% according to KenPom.com. He had a 23.9% assist rate in 2019-20, which ranked #233 in the country, which is nice, but when you’re just as likely to make the pass for a bucket as turn it over, that’s not really a good thing, either. He’s also kind of foul prone, averaging 4.2 fouls per 40 minutes this past season, which may help explain why he was averaging less than 20 minutes per game while starting 26 times.
Iona, BYU, East Carolina, Montana just offered Pittsburgh graduate transfer Ryan Murphy, a source told @Stockrisers.— Jake (@jakeweingarten) March 18, 2020
Marquette is the latest program to reach out.
Ryan Murphy is a 6’2”, 185 pound graduate transfer from Pitt. He spent just one year with the Panthers after starting his collegiate career at Charlotte and sitting out the 2018-19 season. He appeared in 30 games for Jeff Capel, earning 12 starts, all in the early part of this past season. Murphy wrapped up the year averaging 7.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 24.5 minutes per game. He shot 33.1% from long range, and 36% in limited action during ACC play. Murphy did shoot 40% as a freshman for Charlotte, including a whopping 52% in six games against what KenPom.com calls Tier A+B opponents. He was just 26% in 17 games against those same caliber of opponents for Pitt.
Murphy suffered a concussion in early February and never quite bounced back to the playing time that he was getting in the first 21 games of the year. He averaged 10.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists up to that point in 30.4 minutes per game, although he had lost his spot in the starting lineup already. He was connecting on 35.5% of his threes through the end of January, which is definitely a bit nicer than the 33% for the season.
At a glance, it seems like Murphy is mostly just a shooter, although he did have just short of 100 attempts inside the arc for Pitt this year. He’s not going to give you much in terms of rebounding or assists, and I suspect that his pretty solid turnover rate is more a product of the ball heading to the rim right after he catches it most of the time more than anything else. He did have a pretty solid steal rate this season, and he didn’t get rung up for fouls all that much. However, without actually seeing him play, I can’t tell you if that’s a good thing or a bad thing in terms of what kind of defense he was providing for Pitt.
Jonah Antonio is a 6’5” 180 pound Australian native who was listed as a guard on the UNLV roster this past season. He’s been around a bit, graduating from Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas, going to Mount St. Mary’s for two seasons, including a redshirt freshman year, heading to South Plains College in Texas for a year of JUCO action, and then ending up at UNLV this past season. He actually played for the Mount against Marquette back in the opener for the 2017-18 season, getting 37 minutes of run and recording eight points, five rebounds, an assist, and three steals in MU’s 80-59 victory. Head coach Jamion Christian left for Siena after that season, which helps to explain Antonio’s trip to South Plains for a season.
ANYWAY, Antonio appeared in 25 games for the Rebels this past season, averaging 6.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 22.0 minutes per game. He is a Jake Thomas-level “I’m gonna stand here and shoot this” kind of player, attempting 168 three-pointers against just 18 two-pointers in 2019-20. The difference is that Jake Thomas knocked down nearly 40% of his three-pointers as a senior for Marquette, while Antonio was hitting at a 31.5% clip for UNLV. His numbers were roughly the same for The Mount in 2017-18, although playing 33 minutes a night allowed Antonio to get more attempts in, and hit 34% of them. Could Marquette use a guy whose job it is to stand in the corner and hit threes? Sure. The key words are “hit threes” there, however.
We’re going to pause here to drop in the ol’ scholarship table.
All three of the gents that you read about up to this point were graduate transfers, meaning that they will only be eligible for the 2020-21 season. With Markus Howard and Sacar Anim having wrapped up their careers, Marquette is in need of immediate backcourt depth. Koby McEwen, Greg Elliott, and Symir Torrence all have their upsides, some of them more as potential than proven Division 1 success right now. They also all have their downsides, some of them more as proven flaws. Dexter Akanno is in the mix there as well, but after a redshirt season, it’s hard to say for certain exactly how he fits in.
Perry is probably the best immediate fit of the three for Marquette. Murphy and Antonio appear to be best used as role players, which isn’t the worst thing for a grad transfer. However, Marquette needs to fill 66 minutes of guard/wing playing time, and adding a “just a guy” type of player might not be the best move for the Golden Eagles.
We have one final name to discuss, and he is a traditional “needs to sit out a year” transfer.
Binghamton transfer Sam Sessoms has heard from Penn State, Arkansas, Creighton, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Marquette, Oregon State, Washington State, Saint Mary’s and others.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 19, 2020
Averaged 19.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 4.8 APG. Second-team All-America East.
GOOD NEWS: Sessoms has been an every night starter for Binghamton since the moment he stepped onto campus. BAD NEWS: Tommy Dempsey’s squad has gone 20-42 in those two seasons, and that’s 16-42 against Division 1 foes and 9-23 in America East action.
Still, the 6’0”, 188 pound Sessoms averaged 18.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.3 steals in 35 minutes per game in those two seasons, and that’s not nothing. His career shooting splits of 43%/34%/74% aren’t particularly shiny, but perhaps those things bounce upwards a little bit if he feels he can rely on teammates more than he could for the Bearcats. Giving him Big East caliber partners instead of America East caliber partners could be a major boon for him, as he already finished #51 in the country in assist rate this past season according to KenPom.com. That’s a jump from #169 as a freshman, and Sessoms cut his turnover rate from 22.3% (bad) to 17.5% (fine) to help that out.
Sessoms, who was the AE Rookie of the Year in 2019 and led the conference in scoring in 2020, will have to sit out the 2020-21 season before having two years of eligibility left to go after that. If he were to end up at Marquette, he would be joining a guard/wing group that currently projects to consist of Greg Elliott, Symir Torrence, and Dexter Akanno. It remains to be seen how those three guys fit into the 2021-22 picture, as we’ve yet to see head coach Steve Wojciechowski rely on any of them, and Akanno hasn’t even stepped on the floor yet. Having a proven Division 1 scorer and distributor, even at the America East level, like Sessoms on the roster would most likely be beneficial.
There is one final thing to address here in terms of Marquette charging out hard after lots of transferring guards, and that’s Karim Mane. The Canadian guard with NBA Draft eligibility is seriously considering the Golden Eagles if he opts to attend college. The general sense that I have of it is that Mane is nowhere near a lottery prospect, even though 247 Sports has him as the #25 college prospect in the Class of 2020 in their internal ranking system. Generally speaking, that would seem to make college more likely than not, but if Mane feels heading directly into the professional ranks overseas is a more interesting option for him, then his draft prospects are pretty meaningless relative to the chances that he attends Marquette.
What Mane ultimately decides — and the spring signing period starts on April 15th — could have an impact on what direction Marquette goes in, as well as impacting what directions Marquette has available to them. There’s also the question of whether Steve Wojciechowski’s staff is operating with the mindset of “we’re adding these guys along with Mane” or the mindset of “we’re looking into these guys as an insurance policy if Mane opts to go somewhere else.” MU has at least two scholarships open for 2020-21 right now, and that number grows to three if they withdraw the scholarship that was given to Tommy Gardiner for the 2019-20 season. They have the space to add Mane and another player, so it’s not an either/or situation.