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A Marquette Basketball Medical Update

Between Theo John talking about himself and Ben Steele putting in the legwork, we know everything we need to know now.

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NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Marquette
Greg Elliott (#5) and Theo John have both had their required offseason surgeries.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, do y’all have a subscription to The Athletic? I know that Marquette basketball Twitter has had their tiffs with the supervisory end of the The Athletic’s Wisconsin department about whether or not the Golden Eagles are actually something that they should expend money on covering, but if you step outside that, there’s a lot of good sportswriting work being done over there, and one subscription fee gets you everything, which is a pretty good deal.

Anyway, in late April, Brian Hamilton published a rundown of the entire roster for Marquette basketball in the 2020-21 season, along with insight and commentary from head coach Steve Wojciechowski. I highly recommend that you go read it if you haven’t already. Not only is it informative, but it also helps show the decision makers at The Athletic that Marquette = ratings.

I want to highlight three specific items out of the article, which is very very long, so I don’t feel bad at all in the slightest about this.

#1, for Koby McEwen:

One mitigating factor? A thumb injury that will require offseason surgery, once offseason surgeries are a thing that can happen.

#2, for Theo John:

What Wojciechowski calls a “significant wrist injury” was going to require surgery at some point, so the idea of a redshirt season was presented to John and his family.


That wrist surgery has to happen, though, so the key for John’s offseason is less about honing his offensive game or working to limit fouls as it is about when he finds his way into an operating room.

And #3, for Greg Elliott:

And now Elliott is in line for ankle surgery after problems there limited him to 24 appearances this season, which threatens to yank him back to Square 1 again.

That’s in order in the article, for organizational purposes. None of these should be major surprises to you if you were paying attention to the 2019-20 Marquette season. McEwen missed the Central Arkansas game in December with what was phrased as a sprained thumb at the time. John wore a wrist brace for almost the entire season after suffering his injury very early, and Wojciechowski didn’t make it a secret that John would need surgery when the season was over. Elliott missed six games in Big East play with what was called a “day-to-day” injury after appearing to be hobbled in the home overtime loss to Providence.

The downside for all of these surgeries is that we are in the midst of a global coronavirus pandemic and the mere act of going to a hospital is dangerous enough without even getting into the issues of interacting with the volume of strangers necessary to have a surgery. Even if it’s essentially outpatient surgery where you show up bright and early in the morning and are back in your own bed by that night, it’s still a lot to deal with. That’s why you see Hamilton allude to the fact that the three Golden Eagles are up in the air as to when those surgeries take place.

Of the three, Elliott’s is the most concerning in terms of rehabilitation. Sure, Koby McEwen and Theo John having to go two months or whatever without shooting a basketball isn’t great. However, ankle surgery puts a major damper on athletic activity in terms of overall fitness. There’s only so much work you can do with only one operational leg when it comes to cardiovascular exercise, so it’s clearly to Elliott’s benefit to get that rehab clock started sooner rather than later.

So now that I have set panic running rampant through your head as far as the possibility of Marquette not being 100% healthy whenever the 2020-21 basketball season starts, I can also put a stop to that. On Friday, Theo John made it public that he was able to get into a hospital in Minnesota and get his wrist surgery knocked out.

Mr. Johnny On The Spot Ben Steele over at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pulled the trigger on the followup questions to the athletic department: Hey, what’s up with the other guys?

Well, as it turns out, Greg Elliott already had his ankle surgery at some point in April. That’s fantastic news. As for McEwen, it turns out that he will not be going under the knife after all. Whatever rehab therapy he was undergoing since suffering the sprain was effective enough, and at some point between when Hamilton spoke to Wojciechowski and Friday, the decision was made that McEwen’s thumb was healthy enough to dodge the surgery.

Well, that’s really great news all around.

We should probably drop in one minor note as a wrap up here. Up until Steele’s note there, I wasn’t 100% sure which ankle was giving Elliott difficulty. As you can see there, it’s clearly his right ankle. It must be noted that the right ankle is the same one that Elliott injured to the point of needing same day surgery back in June 2019. It’s probably very bad that he re-injured the same ankle just seven months later and needed another surgery on it. The good news is that April to November is a longer stretch of recovery than June to November. If the 2020-21 Marquette basketball season starts on schedule, then it would seem that Elliott would be benefiting from a longer recovery window than he did a year ago. The only question is what kind of effect two surgeries less than a year apart will have on Elliott’s ankle in the long term.