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A Marquette Men’s Basketball Recruiting Update

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It’s not just transfers and it’s not just high school prospects, so we’ll throw a generic headline up there.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - First Round
Will Marcus Santos-Silva be wearing blue and gold next fall?
Photo by Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

What do you want to talk about first, a potential transfer inbound to Marquette men’s basketball, a potential new freshman being added to the Class of 2021, or a Marquette senior with a COVID bonus year? I think they all might be longshots to end up in Milwaukee, quite honestly. Let’s start with the transfer.

Marcus Santos-Silva

Marcus Santos-Silva is a 6’7”, 245 pound forward. He played for three years at VCU, where he was a reserve player as a freshman and then a starter for two seasons. In those two seasons as a starter for the Rams, Santos-Silva averaged 11.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game. Having finished his degree, Santos-Silva made a grad transfer move to Texas Tech, where he started for Chris Beard in the Big 12 as well. His minutes took a little bit of a hit, as did the rest of his stats: 8.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game for the Red Raiders.

While he’s clearly undersized for a center, that hasn’t stopped Santos-Silva from producing. If we veer away from traditional stats and into the KenPom.com universe, Santos-Silva has been nationally ranked in the top 500 in both offensive and defensive rebounding rate in each of the past three seasons. He’s been in the top 80 on the offensive end, including finishing the year at #6 in the country in 2019 and currently sitting at #19 in the country for the 2020-21 season with three games left to be finished. He’s surehanded enough with the ball, not fancy enough to be ranked in turnover rate lately but you’re not going to worry about him coughing it up, either. He’s also an excellent shot blocker, even at just 6’7”, ranking in the top 160 in the country in each of the past three seasons.

If a multi-dimensional player is your preference, then you’re not a big fan of Santos-Silva. He has attempted just one three-point field goal in his entire collegiate career, which has gone for 126 games at this point. It came this past season in TTU’s 67-61 loss at Kansas. That’s it for his entire career. But, if you want a guy who does center things pretty damn well for a guy who doesn’t really have the height to make you think he’s great at it, then Santos-Silva is your guy.

And now, a discussion of a high school prospect.

Tamar Bates

Back when new Marquette head coach Shaka Smart was running the show at Texas, Tamar Bates was the top name in his 2021 recruiting class. At the moment, Bates is ranked #56 in the 247 Sport Composite system, which made him the only top 100 prospect that was signed to play for the Longhorns. However, following Smart’s move from Austin to Milwaukee, the 6’4”, 175 pound Kansas native has asked for and received his release from UT. That has him going through the recruiting process all over again after originally making his commitment to Texas in August of 2020.

If Bates wants to play for Smart, and playing for a Black head coach was very important to him when he committed to Texas, then Marquette has an easy in for Bates’ recruitment. However, with everything still shifting in the wake of Chris Beard being hired to replace Smart and Roy Williams retiring at North Carolina, it’s hard to say that we’re anywhere close to figuring out what Bates might do next. While he had already heard from Gonzaga, who plays in the Final Four on Saturday night, along with Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky as the biggest and brightest names so far, Bates was focused on IMG Academy’s participation in the GEICO Nationals tournament. That came to an end on Friday, as IMG lost to Sunrise Christian Academy.

That moves us along to the Marquette senior.....

Jamal Cain

The tomorrow in question is actually today as I type this on Saturday morning, so keep that in mind.

Cain had his best year at Marquette as a senior as he started in 26 of 27 games played and averaged 9.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. He shot 44% from the field, 34% from long range, and 72% from the free throw stripe. As you can see from the tweet from his old club team, the Michigan native is considering returning to the Golden Eagles to play for new head coach Shaka Smart, heading to Iowa State to play for new head coach T.J. Otzelberger in the Big 12, or returning to Michigan to play for Greg Kampe at Oakland in the Horizon League.

This is going to come down to what Cain wants out of his COVID bonus season of basketball. If he wants to play with the guys that he played with in 2020-21 and see if they can improve on their 13-14 record, then he picks Marquette. If he wants to go somewhere else for sure but wants to play in a high major league, then it’s Iowa State, no matter what the Cyclones looked like last year or what they might look like now that Steve Prohm has been let go. If he wants a chance to be a star on a team, no matter the level, then I think Oakland is the move. I have no special insight here, but I would imagine that Cain merely entering the transfer portal means he’s leaning more towards Iowa State or Oakland.

Let’s turn our attention to the scholarship chart, shall we?

So far, the only repercussion to the Marquette roster following the end of Steve Wojciechowski’s tenure as head coach has been Jonas Aidoo electing to withdraw his verbal commitment to the Golden Eagles. While Aidoo might be a highly regarded recruit right now, he was not signed to play for MU, and so there was always a possibility as his recruiting ranking shot up that he would elect to listen to other schools anyway.

That leaves Marquette with at least three scholarship spots open for the fall of 2021, and maybe four depending on what happens with walk-on turned scholarship player Tommy Gardiner and his knee injury that ended his 2020-21 season. If Cain returns to Marquette, he doesn’t have to count towards Marquette’s scholarship limit of 13 players due to the NCAA invoking a grace period for the 2020-21 seniors only. Smart has already reached out to multiple transfers since being announced as the Marquette head coach, so we’ll have to wait and see what everything looks like when the pieces finally stop moving.