Yesterday we talked at length about the fact that new Marquette head men’s basketball coach Shaka Smart had obvious questions to be answered about what would be going on with his first roster. The addition of Oklahoma forward Kur Kuath meant that one of the six expected returning players from the 2020-21 MU roster would have to be leaving.
We didn’t wait very long to find out who that would be.
On Tuesday morning, the always vigilant folks over at Verbal Commits identified that redshirt freshman Dexter Akanno had entered the NCAA transfer portal.
Marquette G Dexter Akanno (RS FR) has entered the transfer portal. https://t.co/mlSvbSsCgP— Verbal Commits (@VerbalCommits) April 27, 2021
Akanno’s pathway to Marquette was long and winding, going from Valencia, California, to Blair Academy in New Jersey before joining the Golden Eagles for the 2019-20 season. As that season tipped off, almost literally, news came out from the men’s basketball office that Akanno would not play in MU’s first game or any other game that year as he would spend his first year on campus redshirting for developmental purposes. His debut in a Marquette uniform was then delayed, as he missed MU’s first two games of the 2020-21 season for what was called “COVID-related illness” at the time.
It would seem that whatever was impacting Akanno at the start of the season ended up putting him behind the eight ball for the rest of the year. He made his Marquette debut in Game #3 of the season, playing four minutes against Oklahoma State.... but he would play just 59 total minutes the rest of the year and not at all in Marquette’s final five games of the season. Akanno finished the year with a total — not average, total — of eight points, seven rebounds, and one assist. He shot just 18% from the field on his 11 attempts in 12 appearances, and ended up recording more turnovers (9) than points (8).
And now, he’s on his way out, which solves the roster crunch created by adding Kuath. Here’s the freshly updated scholarship chart.
As you can see, the question marks remain in place. Right now, with Dawson Garcia in the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent, Marquette is set with 13 players, the NCAA scholarship maximum, on board for next season. If Garcia withdraws from the draft and returns to Marquette, that would mean someone else is going to have to leave the team. If walk-on turned scholarship player Tommy Gardiner returns to the team and his scholarship status after missing this past season with a knee injury, then that would mean a second player is not returning.
And I say not returning because it would have to be someone from the group of Greg Elliott, Jose Perez, D.J. Carton, Oso Ighodaro, and Justin Lewis. Shaka Smart has brought in three transfers and three of his signees from Texas alongside retaining Kam Jones and Stevie Mitchell from Marquette’s 2021 recruiting class. That’s eight guys that Smart has gone out of his way to inform that there is definitely a landing spot for you in Milwaukee. You don’t do that unless you know there’s space for them. That means that a departure to make space for Garcia has to come from the group of guys who were on the team last year.
Or maybe Garcia doesn’t come back! Who knows! It might be a long time before we get anything solid on this, as the big man from Minnesota doesn’t have to lock down a decision until July.