This college basketball offseason is shaping up to be the wildest one in recent memory and possibly ever. Between the NCAA preparing to vote to eliminate the transfer redshirt year and this past year’s seniors allowed to play an extra season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are likely to be more transfers than we have ever seen before and probably more than we will ever see again.
As such, it’s not surprising to see that Marquette women’s basketball add a player to the 2021-22 roster via transfer. In this case, it’s Karissa McLaughlin, who will be coming to Milwaukee after graduating from Purdue.
Excited for this next chapter! pic.twitter.com/FF8q2H215o— Karissa McLaughlin (@Kmclaughlin12) March 31, 2021
McLaughlin played four years at Purdue and had a pretty storied career along the way. She came in to West Lafayette as the 2017 Gatorade Indiana High School Player of the Year and the 2017 Indiana Miss Basketball. The 5’7” guard was a top 75 prospect across four different recruiting services including topping out at #21 in the country according to Prospects Nation. At Purdue, she was an immediate starter for the Boilermakers and stacked up honors left, right, and center from the get go. I want to give an accurate assessment of what kind of player McLaughlin is, so I’m going to ignore her stats from her seven game injury shortened senior season as a Boilermaker. Before that, though, she averaged 12.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game while putting together a shooting splits line of 39% from the field, 36% from three-point range, and 88% from the free throw line.
She finishes her 105 game Purdue career ranked #20 all-time in scoring with 1,308 points and #16 in Boilermakers history in scoring average at 12.4 points per game after racking up 66 double digit scoring games. That’s not the most notable thing she did for head coach Sharon Versyp, though. That would be breaking Courtney Moses’ career three-pointers made record. In fact, here’s the video of the event:
️" "— Purdue Women's Basketball (@PurdueWBB) January 10, 2021
We've now heard it a record 241 times! pic.twitter.com/cp1zOmXhPV
Quite honestly, McLaughlin coming into Marquette as an established three-point threat is a masterful job of targeting a recruit and doing the work to bring her in by Megan Duffy and her staff. The Golden Eagles were not a good three-point shooting team this past season, connecting on just 32% of their long range attempts. That ranked #128 in the country, which is not exactly bad, but any time you’re under that efficiency break-even mark of 33%, you’re wasting shot attempts. Duffy and her staff seemed to be well aware of Marquette’s weakness in that department. MU ranked #325 in the country in attempts per game and #326 in three-point attempt rate according to HerHoopStats.com in 2020-21. Senior Selena Lott (34%) led Marquette in long range attempts this past season, and even if she elects to return for her COVID bonus season, Marquette is still in need of a reliable option beyond the arc. Claire Kaifes (34%) and Liza Karlen (40%) were more than okay, but both women averaged less than 16 minutes per game and were never anywhere the top offensive option on the court.
McLaughlin provides Marquette with a shooting option that they just didn’t have last year. They’ll probably need more than just her to step up to help stretch the floor and make things easier for everyone in 2021-22, but McLaughlin definitely isn’t going to hurt things, either. If she adds things to the table in the passing department after averaging 3.6 assists in her career at Purdue, then that’s even better.
We should note the slight risk in adding McLaughlin to the roster. She did only play in seven games this past season because she had ankle surgery in the offseason and wasn’t even originally expecting to play this year as a result. She was ahead of her rehab schedule, though, and so she elected to try and play, but between getting back up to Big Ten capable speed and issues with being cleared for COVID reasons, McLaughlin was never quite right and shut things down for the year in early February. The good news is that McLaughlin will have all the time between now and this coming November to get herself 100% ready to go. The bad news is that we don’t know how much she was set back by her attempts to play this past season.
Okay, let’s hit the scholarship table!
Adding McLaughlin to the roster leaves the Golden Eagles with one available scholarship spot for the 2021-22 season. I don’t know if Megan Duffy has any plans to use it or roll it over to the Class of 2022. Depending on how Duffy looks at her roster for the fall of 2021, I can see the argument going either way.
In addition to that, leaving only one scholarship spot available at this point is not confirmation that either Selena Lott or Lauren Van Kleunen are not coming back for their COVID bonus season. The NCAA has granted a blanket exception for teams to exceed their scholarship limit to welcome back their 2020-21 seniors for an extra year without penalty. McLaughlin is using a COVID bonus year, but because she left Purdue to come to Marquette, she does count towards MU’s allowed number of scholarship athletes. The WNBA is using an opt-in system for their draft this season with the deadline to enter yourself, senior or not, coming on April 1st.
As I type this, that’s tomorrow. I would imagine that we will know about Lott and Van Kleunen’s future by the close of business on Thursday, and I would imagine that getting that officially settled might give us a hint as to where Duffy might go with her 2021-22 roster. She’s already looking at having 14 women on scholarship and we have to keep in mind the fact that only seven Golden Eagles played in all 26 games this past season and only eight played in more than 20 games. 14 is a lot given that context, and obviously 15 and 16 is even more, so we’ll wait and see where things go from here.