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Marquette Basketball Has Gotten Into The Transfer Market

If you were wondering if the coaching staff is considering the season to be over, look no further than chasing after transfers as evidence.

Vermont v Cincinnati
Vermont’s Stef Smith is one of three potential transfers that Marquette has already contacted.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

UPDATE [3/21/21]: This article was published on March 15, 2021. On March 19, 2021, Marquette fired head men’s basketball coach Steve Wojciechowski. Until MU has a new head coach in place, it is unclear what involvement the program will have with recruiting any of the three men listed here.

The Marquette men’s basketball season came to an end on March 10th. At least, I presume it’s over. The team has long since been eliminated from NCAA tournament at-large contention, and losing to Georgetown in the first round of the Big East tournament ended their at-large chances. I suppose there’s a chance that they could get an NIT invite, but 1) I don’t think that MU is one of the 16 best non-NCAA teams and 2) I don’t think there should be an NIT this year and would greatly appreciate it if the Golden Eagles declined an invite.

Anyway.

The point of the story is that if the season is over, that means it’s time for the coaching staff to get started chasing after potential incoming transfers. In fact, as you’ll see in a second, the chasing after transfers actually started before the Georgetown game in case you were wondering where everyone’s attention was focused. This here internet website has long since been telling you about the university’s lack of interest in a coaching change both in general and also because of financial reasons. But if you wanted evidence that there won’t be a change, the current staff being allowed to make contact with potential transfers is a pretty good one.

So, if Steve Wojciechowski et. al. are reaching out to potential new Golden Eagles, then we have to do our duty to tell you about what they’re looking at bringing in. We’ve got three names already and the NCAA tournament field hasn’t even been announced yet. There will be more down the road, I’m sure, but we don’t want this list to get much longer before we start taking stock.

First, though, let’s start with a look at the Marquette scholarship situation so we’re all on the same page.

Kam Jones (247 Sports’ #162 player) and Stevie Mitchell (#86) are already signed for the Golden Eagles for next fall. Jonas Aidoo (#60) is committed, but since that happened in December, we’ll have to wait for the middle of April for his letter of intent to actually come in. That leaves Marquette with two possible available scholarship spots. One of them is possibly going to be taken up by Tommy Gardiner, who was on scholarship as a junior this past season. However, between his former walk-on status and his season ending injury, we’ll have to wait and see what actually happens there. If any of MU’s senior trio of Jamal Cain, Theo John, and Koby McEwen were to return for their NCAA-allowed COVID bonus season, they would not count towards MU’s scholarship limit.... but it’s possible that they would count towards Marquette’s theoretical budgeted limit of 13 players.

So there’s a lot of balls in the air there, although I don’t anticipate any of the seniors returning.

Okay, let’s dive in, going in chronological order.

Jamison Battle

Battle has a connection to Marquette and Steve Wojciechowski, well, kind of. The 6’7”, 225 pound forward attended De La Salle High School in the Twin Cities area, which is the same high school as former Golden Eagles Sacar Anim. He also played on the club circuit for D1 Minnesota, which is the same squad as current Golden Eagle Dawson Garcia.

At George Washington, Battle started in 30 of his 32 appearances as a freshman, and then started in all 15 games that he appeared in as a sophomore this past season. In his 47 game career, he is averaging 13.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He’s a pretty decent shooter, connecting on 36% of his long range attempts in his collegiate career. He was nearly entirely only a shooter as a freshman with 243 shots behind the arc against just 63 two-point attempts, but that evened out to about 50/50 in attempts as a sophomore.

5.2 rebounds per game sounds pretty good, but it wasn’t good enough to get him nationally ranked per KenPom.com in terms of rebounding rate on either end of the floor. Battle’s rebounds were nearly exclusively on the defensive end, but that might be more of a function of how the GW coaching staff wanted him to play than anything else. He doesn’t turn the ball over much, but he’s also not going to get you assists, and he doesn’t get to the line although that’s to be expected if he’s primarily a shooter. Battle also doesn’t commit fouls, but with George Washington ranking sub-250 in KenPom’s adjusted defensive ratings in each of his two seasons, I can’t help but wonder if “doesn’t commit fouls” might be code for “does not play tough defense.”

Antonio Daye, Jr.

45-172.

That’s Antonio Daye’s three-point shooting numbers in his three seasons at FIU. 26% for the 6’3”, 190 pound guard. That’s .... not... great. Marquette struggled to shoot the ball from long range this past season — just 32%, #247 in the country — and they can expect to be losing 34% Koby McEwen and 34% Jamal Cain from that roster. I’m not sure that Daye is a fit for Marquette as a result, especially if he’d be paired with D.J. Carton’s 28% shooting in the back court. Or we could just cross our fingers and hope that Carton goes back to shooting 40% from deep like he did at Ohio State on half as many attempts.

There’s kind of an overlap in Daye and Carton elsewhere. KenPom.com says that Daye was #79 in the country in assist rate this season, getting the helper on 29.8% of FIU’s buckets while he was on the floor. That’s actually better than Carton’s team high of 23.8%. If the idea is that having two point guard types on the floor is better than one, then I can appreciate the idea there.

I do like that Daye ranked #39 in steal rate in the country this year. My only concern is that Steve Wojciechowski has emphasized creating turnovers on defense less and less and less every year that he’s been in charge in Milwaukee. Adding Daye because he’s a defensive wiz seems an awful lot like when Wojciechowski added Joseph Chartouny..... who promptly went from leading the country in steal rate at 5.6% at Fordham to a meager 2.8% in his one year at MU.

Daye averaged 11.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.8 steals in 87 career games at Florida International. As a junior this past season, he posted career highs in points (17.1), rebounds (4.3), and steals (2.4) while getting 4.7 assists per game, 0.1 short of his high water mark from sophomore year.

Stef Smith

If the name sounds familiar to you, it’s because Smith gave the Golden Eagles 20 points on 7-for-8 shooting including a perfect 6-for-6 from behind the arc along with four rebounds and three assists back in December of 2017.

That was easily the best game of his freshman season with the Catamounts, as he only broke double digits on two other occasions, and only once after that. He was coming off the bench as a freshman for a Vermont team with NCAA aspirations, though, so that’s not a knock on him. He’s been a starter ever since, averaging 13.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists the past three years.

The 6’2”, 185 pound guard out of Canada did shoot 40% from the field this season, that’s true. But 89 of his 149 attempts on the year were from long range, and he hit a more than okay 36% of those. Smith is a career 39% three-point shooter, which is just fine by me. However, I don’t know what else he gives Marquette. He was a high usage guy for Vermont this season, and between D.J. Carton and Dawson Garcia on the roster next year, Marquette isn’t going to be looking to one guy, much less a newcomer, to dominate the ball like that. He doesn’t rebound the ball particularly well in terms of rate, although 3.5 per game as a guard is fine. His assist rate is lacking, although 19.5% as a junior was pretty good. In terms of good things, Smith doesn’t turn the ball over all that much, and he did start getting to the free throw line regularly this past season.