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Yet More Transfers Get The Call From Marquette Basketball

The new list includes a top prospect from the recent Marquette past.

Ohio State v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Hi, everybody! Wanna talk about more transfers who are hearing from the Golden Eagles?

The names just keep piling up as Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski finds himself woefully and hilariously low on proven reliable quantities at the guard and wing positions for next year and beyond. This isn’t for lack of trying, mind you, but the Golden Eagles are heading into a season with a lot of high profile forwards coming in as freshman and not a heck of a lot to rely on in the backcourt to support them. It’s an odd situation, and one that I am glad that I do not have to figure out in order to earn my million dollar paycheck.

Anyway, let’s move on to the potential new Golden Eagles. We’re diving backwards a few days to play some catchup on names that have popped into the mix. We should probably start with the former top 40 prospect who had Marquette in his final six back in the day, huh?

D.J. Carton

Okay, let’s start with the basics. At Ohio State, Carton was listed as a 6’2”, 190 pound guard. Hailing from Bettendorf, Iowa, Carton ended up ranked #34 in the country according to 247 Sports’ Composite rankings for the Class of 2019. Marquette originally offered him a scholarship back in June 2017, and Carton was unranked as a prospect at the time. When he trimmed his list to a final six in May 2018, he was ranked #33 in the country, so things can change quick, I guess. Carton eventually eliminated the Golden Eagles from consideration in July 2018 before committing to Ohio State about a week later.

After enrolling, Carton came off the bench for Chris Holtmann as the Buckeyes started this past season 11-1. As Big Ten play started up, Ohio State encountered some struggles, which appeared to lead Holtmann to shake up his lineup, giving Carton three starts. He would end up averaging 10.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in just under 24 minutes per game in the scarlet and gray.

After appearing in 20 games, Carton took a leave of absence from the team for mental health reasons, something that he said at the time that he had been dealing with for “a couple years.” Carton ultimately did not appear in another game for Ohio State, and is now pursuing a transfer.

I say the following with every bit of care possible: If DJ Carton feels that he’s up to the task of playing high major basketball, then he absolutely would be a great addition to the Marquette roster. I don’t know the specifics of his mental health, and it could be stemming from any number of a wide range of possibilities. What I know for sure is 1) Carton already decided that continuing to practice and play high major basketball at Ohio State was not a good mental health decision for him and 2) playing high major basketball anywhere at all can be a fairly taxing activity in terms of mental health.

Here’s the list of schools that Carton shared with Jake Weingarten:

Texas, Marquette, Louisville, Arkansas, Creighton, Texas Tech, Oregon, Alabama, Illinois, USC, Nebraska, Seton Hall, DePaul, Auburn, Oklahoma, Georgia Tech

Those are all high major schools. It seems that he’s not considering anything else but high majors if those are the names he’s passing along. I don’t know if being closer to home than Columbus is something that’s important to him, or if being further away is something that he’s looking for at this point. It would appear that merely going closer to home in Bettendorf is not a top priority for him, because if it were, you would think that schools like Northern Iowa or Drake might end up on his list. If Carton feels that he’s up to the task, then I say that Marquette should be doing everything they can to put him in blue and gold.

The other two guys to talk about right now are graduate transfers, while Carton appears to be a sit one/play three prospect. Let’s drop in the ol’ scholarship chart and circle back to Carton’s status.

Carton did not take his leave of absence from Ohio State until the end of January. That’s far enough into the 2019-20 season that it would count as a spent year of eligibility. There is a chance, I suppose, that the NCAA grants a transfer wavier for Carton that would allow him to play immediately wherever he ends up next. I don’t consider this to be a particularly strong possibility, but then again, I also don’t know what exactly was the nature of Carton’s mental health difficulties. I can see the NCAA approving Carton to play in 2020-21 depending on the totality of the circumstances, but I can also very easily see them not doing that. We can file it under “well, maybe” and move on from there. If he were to end up at Marquette, he would be a great addition no matter when he gets to start spending his three remaining years of eligibility. Marquette needs guard depth now, and Koby McEwen leaving after the forthcoming season only makes that situation worse.

One other thing to remember as we move along here: Marquette is not restricted to one player. Part of the reason why there are so many contacts for the Golden Eagles right now is because MU has at least two scholarships sitting available for 2020-21, and most likely three. I don’t know what Wojciechowski is planning on doing with the scholarship that former walk-on Tommy Gardiner had this past season, but if he wants to return Gardiner to walk-on status, then Marquette has three spots sitting open for next fall. That’s a lot, particularly with three freshmen inbound and Dexter Akanno coming off his redshirt during his first year on campus.

Okay! Onwards to the grad transfers!

Justin Turner

Bowling Green’s roster listed Justin Turner as a 6’4”, 205 pound guard this past season. He started 89 of 90 games the past three seasons for the Falcons, averaging 17.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game while playing more than 32 minutes a night. Turner has been a consistent three-point threat, averaging more than four attempts from behind the arc per game each year and connecting on 37% of them. Turner only played in 23 games this season, as he missed time with a hamstring injury. While he did miss six games as a result, Turner did not miss a step when he returned, averaging 18.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.0 assists the rest of the way in 2019-20.

In terms of an advanced stat profile, Turner is a guy that Bowling Green relied on to take shots, but not so much that he was overly dominant. He’s not the world’s most efficient shooter, partially because he only hit on 44% of his two-pointers this past season. Turner is sure handed, though, ranking #208 in the country per KenPom.com in turnover rate, and he was only getting whistled for 1.9 fouls per 40 minutes. Turner can get to the line a bunch — he led the MAC in fouls drawn per 40 in league play this past season — and, at 79% for his career and 85% this past season, you can count on him to convert those trips to points.

As a graduate transfer, it would appear that Turner would fit the one notable hole that Marquette has for 2020-21: A proven reliable scorer. He contributes elsewhere on the floor, so that’s just bonus stuff, as the Golden Eagles do not have a double digit scorer returning from 2019-20.

Nate Johnson

Hailing from Miami, Florida, Nate Johnson is a 6’3”, 180 pound guard according to the Gardner-Webb roster. His bio page helpfully provides a scouting report which appears to have been written before his junior season:

Returning backcourt starter who will be one of the team’s most dependable scorers again as a junior … Explosive athlete with great shooting range well beyond the three-point arc … Shoulders high expectations on the defensive end as well and is one of the team’s most active defenders … Is an All-Conference caliber guard who is poised for a breakthrough season.

Johnson appeared in just 12 games for the Bulldogs back in 2017-18, coming off the bench for limited minutes in each one before missing the remainder of the season. Over the past two years, he’s been a regular starter for head coach Tim Craft. Over that time, Johnson has averaged 11.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.6 steals per game while playing more than 30 minutes per outing. He did more scoring (13.6 points) than distributing (1.2 assists) this past season, but also had more rebounds (4.7) and steals (1.7) as well.

He’s a great shooter, ranking in the top 200 in effective field goal percentage according to KenPom each of the past two seasons, and bested his 38.9% mark from long range against Division 1 foes with a 41.2% shooting percentage behind the arc this past season. Johnson is effective enough inside the arc to be dangerous, but based on the shot totals, it appears that at the very least Gardner Webb was more comfortable getting him threes to shoot as opposed to getting him moving towards the rim. His turnover rates are nothing to worry about, although Johnson’s assist rates are a bit of an issue. If he were to end up at Marquette, he’d likely have to pick up some of the distribution role, if not all of it from Koby McEwen, and that’s not something that Johnson was asked to do the past two years. The Bulldogs had three guys this past season with an assist rate in the top 325 in the country, and the year before, they had two in the top 500. None of these five guys were Johnson. I’m not saying he can’t do it, I’m saying that it would be a massive change in dynamic for him to start distributing. Generally speaking, grad transfers should be considered plug-and-play type guys. If you want them to come in and change what they’re good at, it’s probably not going to work out well for anyone involved.