Well, we’re certainly having a week’s worth of news around here, aren’t we? Look, I’m not going to give a whole preamble about what you may and may not have missed. If anything you read makes you say “hey, what happened?” then pop over to our Marquette Recruiting page and get caught up.
On Thursday morning, we found out about the fifth addition to the Marquette men’s basketball roster in less than 48 hours, as Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced that he will be transferring to Marquette to play for new head coach Shaka Smart.
Prosper comes to Marquette after a year at Clemson. The 6’8”, 218 pound forward played in 22 games for head coach Brad Brownell and averaged 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds in 9.7 minutes per game. Those numbers are kind of deflated after OMP did not play much at all in the final five games of the season and did not appear in the Tigers’ 60-56 loss to Rutgers in the NCAA tournament. Still, his numbers in Clemson’s first 17 games weren’t exactly breaking the bank: 3.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per outing.
It’s safe to say that the Montreal native was expecting a little bit more for himself, especially after he appears to have been demoted to a deep reserve role late in the season. Prosper was ranked #99 in the Class of 2020 by 247 Sports’ Composite system’s final rankings last summer, although he ended up dropping to #106 in the class by the time all of the 2021 early enrollees got properly fed into the system. 247’s internal rankings had him as the #87 prospect in the recruiting class, presumably even after adjusting for the early enrolled guys. He’s the seventh best prospect to enroll at Clemson this century, which includes classmate P.J. Hall at #3 on that list. In addition to whatever OMP may or may not have felt about his place within Brownell’s rotation, assistant coach Anthony Goins, who is listed by 247 as Prosper’s primary recruiter, recently moved to join Earl Grant’s staff at Boston College. When you’re electing to go to college in a different country, the guy who recruited you leaving for another job can play a part in your feelings about sticking around, particularly if you’re leaning towards transferring anyway.
We have to play Small Sample Size Theater with his KenPom.com numbers since Prosper only played in 22.3% of Clemson’s minutes this season. With that said, if being able to post double digit rebounding rates on both ends of the floor — 10.3% on offense, 13.1% on defense — is even remotely close to reality for him, I think he’ll be able to carve out a pretty decent spot for himself. Prosper also had a turnover rate of just 12.7% and when you consider that he didn’t really play all that much, it’s very easy for that rate to skyrocket on just a few turnovers.
There are reasonable questions to ask about his shooting abilities. Prosper took 18 three-pointers in 22 games for the Tigers, but he only hit three of them for a conversion rate of just 17%. That’s not good. Going 2-for-10 in ACC play is a little bit better, but only a little. He was not a very good foul shooter, connecting on just 68% of his free throw attempts, and his 44% two-point shooting leaves a little bit to be desired for a guy who is 6’8” tall.
That brings us to the scholarship chart portion of our show, and here’s where things get complicated.
The NCAA limit on scholarships for men’s basketball in Division 1 is 13. Marquette currently has, between returning players and announced newcomers, 14 scholarship players projected for the 2021-22 season. That is not counting former walk-on Tommy Gardiner, who was promoted to scholarship player by former head coach Steve Wojciechowski and missed most of the 2020-21 season due to a knee injury, but it is counting forward Dawson Garcia, who recently entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent.
With that in mind, I have now added a question mark to every returning player on the scholarship chart for the 2021-22 school year. New head coach Shaka Smart has added five players to the roster between Prosper and Tyler Kolek transferring in and three of his Texas signees — Emarion Ellis, Keeyan Itejere, and David Joplin — electing to follow the coach that they originally signed with to his new job. We can consider those five guys to be locks. MU signee Stevie Mitchell has declared out loud in public that he remains committed to and signed with Marquette, and Kam Jones, the other MU signee from last November, has been generally positive towards the coaching change to Smart. We’re going to consider those seven guys locks for sure.
Everyone else is up for debate and discussion at this point. I don’t know exactly what’s going on at the McGuire Center in terms of discussions of the future of the program, but it is very clear to me that someone who was on last year’s roster with eligibility remaining will not be back in blue and gold when November rolls around. I’m not sure exactly who it is, and quite honestly, it’s a little surprising that no one has already entered the transfer portal since Smart is clearly moving forward with an expectation that someone is leaving. This includes Garcia, who only made the announcement that he is entering the NBA Draft. He said he intends to return to school if the NBA evaluators say he will not be drafted, but we have to acknowledge the fact that he said “school” and not “Marquette” in his statement.
The only thing that we know for sure right now is that we’re clearly not anywhere close to done when it comes to Smart’s reinvention of the Marquette roster. Stay tuned, y’all.