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Oklahoma Transfer Kur Kuath Commits To Marquette

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And now the clock is officially off and running on when Shaka Smart is going to resolve his roster space issue.

Oklahoma v Gonzaga
My God, it looks like Kuath (#52) isn’t even trying very hard to get that high in the air.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Marquette men’s basketball roster got a little bit bigger on Monday afternoon. Oklahoma transfer Kur Kuath announced that he has committed to playing his COVID bonus season of eligibility at Marquette.

It’s been less than a week since we knew that head coach Shaka Smart was interested in adding his former conference rival to his new roster in Milwaukee, and that’s not the only reason why it’s interesting that Kuath has made his commitment now. When the South Sudanese big man announced that he was entering the transfer portal back on April 19th, he also announced that he was entering the NBA Draft without hiring an agent at that time.

Obviously, since he maintained his eligibility, there was always a possibility that he ended up playing an extra year of college hoops. I wouldn’t have guessed that he would go from “declaring for the draft” to “nope, never mind” in only a week, but here we are. I guess sometimes you hear back things quicker from NBA scouts than you might think? Or maybe Shaka Smart’s recruiting pitch was just that impressive.

Kuath (pronounced “Kweth” according to his Oklahoma bio page) was in Norman for the past three seasons after starting his collegiate career with two years at Salt Lake Community College where he averaged 10.8 points and 7.2 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in 33 games in his sophomore season. Kuath’s first year at OU was cut short after six games due to a back injury, but he played in all but one of the Sooners’ games over the past two seasons.

He was a part timer for head coach Lon Kruger as a junior and a senior, averaging 13.7 minutes per game in 57 contests and chipping in 4.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. Kuath did start in 15 of Oklahoma’s first 16 games this past season, and he averaged 6.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 19.9 minutes per game in that 16 game stretch.

We should be clear: Kuath is Tall Man, not Big Man. At 6’10”, he’s clearly able to take advantage of his height, ranking #28 in the country in block rate per KenPom.com this past season as well as #206 in offensive rebounding rate. At just 220 pounds, he’s never going to be confused for a bruiser in the paint. However, given his ability to block shots, grab his teammates’ misses, and shoot 55% on two-point attempts, it certainly seems like he does just fine playing as an athletic big man as opposed to a guy who gets things done with strength alone.

This brings us to the Marquette men’s basketball scholarship chart.... and, well, we have some things to talk about.

Since Shaka Smart was announced as the new head coach, there have been six players who have committed to play for the Golden Eagles this coming fall: Transfers Tyler Kolek, Olivier-Maxence Prosper, and Kur Kuath, along with former Texas signees Emarion Ellis, Keeyan Itejere, and David Joplin. This is in addition to confirmation that Marquette signees Kam Jones and Stevie Mitchell are staying committed and signed to join the Golden Eagles.

That’s eight new faces that were not on the roster last season.

As of right this very second, there are six players that we feel very comfortable noting as returning Golden Eagles from the 2020-21 season on the roster. Six returning guys plus eight newcomers equals 14... and the NCAA scholarship limit is 13.

Oh, and walk-on turned scholarship player Tommy Gardiner could still return from his season ending knee injury, which would give Marquette 15 scholarship players.

Oh, and Dawson Garcia could opt to leave the NBA Draft and return to Marquette for his sophomore season, which would give Marquette 16 scholarship players.

In short, Kuath’s addition guarantees that one of the six returning guys has to go. Gardiner coming back would mean two have to go. Garcia returning to school would mean three have to go.

I’m fine with this. It’s Shaka Smart’s roster to curate as he sees fit to win games going forward, and it’s his roster to deal with as openly and as honestly as possible. If he knows what’s up and everyone else knows what’s up, and everyone’s on the same page, then it is what it is for now and everything’s fine.

My problem is that one of the six returning guys — Greg Elliott, Jose Perez, D.J. Carton, Dexter Akanno, Oso Ighodaro, and Justin Lewis — is definitely not coming back next season, but they’re not in the transfer portal right now. If they’re planning on playing college basketball next year, then there’s only so many roster spots available out there, even with transfers, largely because seniors like Kuath are transferring to new places. I would hate to see Smart do what he needs to do to make this roster his and have one of the guys who just went through the worst year of college basketball at Marquette in decades both by record and by conditions get shut out in the cold because there’s nowhere for them to go.

And, given that Marquette is also interested in DeVante Jones, a guard from Coastal Carolina, it’s completely possible that we’re still not completely done adding new faces to the roster.

At least it’s not boring?