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Gardner-Webb Transfer Jose Perez Commits To Marquette

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It appears there will be two guards in suits on the MU sidelines during the 2020-21 season.

Gardner-Webb v Virginia Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

The Marquette basketball family got a little bigger on Thursday evening, as Gardner-Webb transfer Jose Perez made his commitment to the Golden Eagles and head coach Steve Wojciechowski.

Let’s run through some quotes from Perez, as he did a few pre-announcement interviews/mailed some stock answers around to a few places.

Let’s go with 247 Sports’ Evan Daniels, who was the first to publish the news:

“I just felt like Marquette was a place I could become the best player I could be and win championships,” Perez said. “Coach [Steve Wojciechowski] has that same fire I have and they want to recruit the east coast.”

“When I got to know coach [Dwayne] Killings I knew he was a guy that would push me, that I could trust and make me better,” he added. “We connected right away and I believe in him and Woj. I can’t wait to get there and start working.”

“The pitch was that I was going to become a part of their family for the rest of my life,” Perez said. “I will have a chance to get better with their individual instruction and showcase my talent as a full time guard. I’m also in love with winning and they showed me how we would have a legitimate chance at making the NCAA Tournament each year I’m there.”

Dwayne Killings is the one who made things happen, you say. Fascinating.

Perez was an unranked prospect coming out of high school in the Class of 2018 and spent the past two seasons at Gardner-Webb. The 6’5”, 200 pound Bronx native 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. This past season, he played in 22 games for head coach Tim Craft before taking a leave of absence from the team for personal reasons in early February and missed the remainder of the season. Perez did not announce that he was transferring until late April, so it’s unclear as to how much that personal reason has to do with his transfer decision. What we do know for sure is that he’s definitely not transferring to Marquette to be closer to home, as Boiling Springs, North Carolina, is definitely closer to New York City than Milwaukee.

As he is a traditional transfer, Perez is currently slotted to sit out the 2020-21 season. The NCAA is going to have a vote on whether to eliminate the transfer redshirt policy soon, but the recommendation from inside the NCAA is to keep the policy in place. There’s always a possibility that he would receive a waiver for some reason, but that reason would be a mystery to me at this point. As such, we have to expect Perez to sit out next year, just as we currently have to expect D.J. Carton to sit out as well.

I lack the ability to make definitive statements about these things, but we have to presume that a year off from games might be beneficial to Perez. After assembling an effective field goal percentage of 51.5% as a freshman thanks to shooting 38.1% from behind the arc, Perez apparently completely lost his touch before his sophomore season. Let’s be honest: an eFG% of 38.3% and a three-point shooting percentage of 25% isn’t going to cut it in the Big East, no matter what kind of physicality Perez brings to the table. His usage didn’t change much from year to year — 26.2% to 27.9% per KenPom.com — so merely taking a bajillion more shots wasn’t the problem.

In terms of beneficial things on the court, Perez boosted his assist rate from 18.9% as a freshman (#469 in the country per KenPom) to 24.1% while being on the court a majority of the time while he was still playing for Gardner-Webb. That one ranked #227 in the country, and if Perez can replicate that ability to find the open man in Milwaukee, I think things are generally speaking going to be okay for him.

Let’s go to the scholarship chart, shall we?

For the time being, we’ll mark Perez and Carton with white backgrounds as we expect them to both sit out the 2020-21 season. If Tommy Gardiner goes back to his walk-on status, then Marquette still has one open scholarship for the 2020-21 campaign. At this point, I presume that is exclusively reserved for Karim Mane if he elects to withdraw from the NBA Draft and pursue a college career at Marquette. If not, it will sit open and roll over to 2021-22, which will be the priority for Wojciechowski and his coaching staff at this point. MU projects to have three scholarships opening up at that point with the departures of Jamal Cain, Theo John, and Koby McEwen. Carton and Perez would more than make up for the loss of McEwen if that’s when they both become eligible, so the door is pretty open for Wojciechowski to go get whatever high school prospects he can get in terms of filling holes on the roster.