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2021-22 Marquette Men’s Basketball Player Preview: #13 Oso Ighodaro

Last season may as well have been a legitimate redshirt season for the lanky forward. What does this season hold?

Yes, I’m using the same picture from his review from last season because it’s the only one that Getty AND USA Today have.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2021-22 college basketball season is right around the corner, so let’s get into the Marquette Golden Eagles basketball roster and take a look at what to expect from each player this season. We’ll be going through the players one by one: First MU’s freshmen in alphabetical order, then the two underclassmen transfers, then the two super-seniors on their extra year of eligibility, and then finally the three returning players, going in order of average minutes per game last season from lowest to highest.

We’re going to organize our thoughts about the upcoming season as it relates to each player into categories, as we always do:

  • Reasonable Expectations
  • Why You Should Get Excited
  • Potential Pitfalls

With that out of the way, it’s time to talk about the first of three returning players on the Marquette roster for this season........

Oso Ighodaro

Sophomore - #13 - Forward - 6’9” - 215 pounds - Chandler, Arizona

Officially, here at Anonymous Eagle, we’re going with the normal class progression for each of the guys on the roster. Oso Ighodaro was a freshman last year, so this year, we’re saying he’s a sophomore. However, Marquette’s official roster terminology, thanks to last year being declared a freebie due to COVID relief from the NCAA, says that Ighodaro is a redshirt freshman.

Well, let me tell you what, rarely is that label more accurately applied to a guy. Last year, Ighodaro came into Marquette 10 pounds lighter but with a “somewhere between 70 and 130 in the rankings” situation. That’s kind of a broad spectrum of things, but the point of the story is that it was fair to think that if Ighodaro could handle the physicality of college hoops, there was some playing time available for him. Things started out good in that direction as he got 13 minutes of run in Marquette’s blowout opener against Arkansas Pine Bluff.

Two days later, he played three minutes against Eastern Illinois as Marquette won by 25.

He would play just 22 minutes for the rest of the season.

And looked full of potential while doing it, by the way! There was a lot to like in what little we saw of him, but it’s hard to really say that when he could easily be classified under the heading “barely played.” Unfortunately for Ighodaro, right after he played 10 minutes in a win over Butler on February 2nd and scored his first two points against a Big East team, he suffered a leg injury in practice and was done for the rest of the season.

Five games played, 38 total minutes. There’s a reason why I gave him an Incomplete as a grade in his review at the end of the season. We saw just enough of him to say “hey, maybe there’s something there!” and but that was it. Season ended early and everything.

You can see why I said calling him a “redshirt freshman” is wildly appropriate.

Reasonable Expectations

So here’s a fun fact about this Marquette basketball season. I think we can all agree that Kur Kuath is going to get to play all the minutes at the 5 position that he wants to/can play. He’s here on a bonus season of eligibility, and there’s no reason to recruit him without telling him “you can play all you want.” All of this makes sense.

But at the end of the day, Kur Kuath is going to have some issues here and there defending some guys. He’s going to get into foul trouble, and obviously he can’t possibly play all 40 minutes all season long just on basic principle anyway. That second part goes double if Shaka Smart succeeds in running a system that’s focused on athleticism and speed and energy.

Kur Kuath is the presumed opening day starter at what you would call the center position at 6’10” and 215 pounds.

Oso Ighodaro is 6’9” and 215 pounds. From nothing other than a physical appearance on the court, these two guys are almost the same. Whatever Marquette wants to do on defense relative to whoever is playing the 5, nothing much changes from Kuath to Ighodaro.

It’s completely reasonable to think that Ighodaro is going to vacuum up whatever minutes at the 5 that Kuath leaves behind. Heck, he might even get some time at the 4 whenever Justin Lewis is on the bench, too. Chalk Ighodaro up for “reliable bench contributor” in your head, whatever that comes out to for you.

Why You Should Get Excited

We saw flickers of Ighodaro’s athleticism last season. In the rare minutes that he actually got to play, every so often we got to see him do something that made you say “oh, dang, he can do that kind of thing? Lemme see more!” And then we didn’t actually see more of it.

What if he gets turned loose for 10 minutes a game? What if he perfects the art of catching lobs in pick and rolls and jamming it home? What if he gains a knack for the putback slam? What if he’s got springy legs and can rack up blocks and rebounds at an amazing rate?

It seems like this coaching staff wants to maximize the athleticism of the entire roster and use it to create opportunities on both ends of the court. It certainly looks like Ighodaro — someone who was called a guard (!) by his club team back in high school — has more than enough athleticism to fit into the program. It’s only a matter of getting it figured out on the court against live opponents.

Potential Pitfalls

I know I made a big deal about Kur Kuath and Oso Ighodaro being the same physical guy on the court. The fact of the matter is that Kuath is in his sixth year of college hoops thanks to a redshirt year at Oklahoma and two years of junior college before that. He knows what to expect. He knows how it goes. He’s been through seasons of Big 12 basketball.

Ighodaro hasn’t. 38 total minutes of college experience, nearly half of which came against Marquette’s two worst opponents. He just does not have the night-in, night-out level of understanding how it works. That’s not his fault, there’s nothing he can do about that. But what it means is that there are going to be mistakes and errors. I don’t mean in the “I gave up a dunk because coach told me to challenge for deflections constantly” kind of errors, I mean the “I blew an assignment because this is my 12th college basketball game ever” kind of thing. They’re going to happen, that’s just how it goes.

Ighodaro can’t let it affect him, and thus affect his playing time. We’ve already seen mention in The Athletic that bad body language isn’t tolerated in the MU practice gym. I’m not worried about it affecting him mentally as a result.... but at some point, if the mistakes keep happening, the coaching staff is going to look for answers somewhere else on the roster.