One of the things that you’re always likely to get when there’s a coaching change is shakeups in the recruiting waters. When you have a coach leave for another job, it’s kind of likely that the recruits signed to play for that coach are going to follow him. When you fire your coach, like Marquette did with Steve Wojciechowski, it’s a slightly different situation. There’s nowhere new for the prospects to go immediately, but they wanted to play for a coach that’s not there any more. If they want to go somewhere else, even on what amounts to a short notice recruiting process, you have to respect that and honor it.
That’s what happened with Marquette and Jonas Aidoo.
The other thing, where the player elects to stick with his letter of intent and play for the new head coach after a couple of days of conversation? That’s what has happened with Shaka Smart and top 100 prospect Stevie Mitchell.
In an interview with BVM Sports, Mitchell had the following to say:
“I am staying committed to Marquette,” Mitchell said on Saturday, a little over a week after Smart’s hiring. “I’ve been talking to Smart a lot recently and I’ve been getting to know him. He’s a really cool guy and really fun to talk to. Obviously he’s been a successful coach and he knows a lot about the game. So being able to learn from him is a great opportunity and I’m really excited to go to school there and get better on and off the court.
“I like the core values he has on relationships, growth and victory. I became comfortable with the whole situation now and Coach Smart makes me feel like he wants me there and showed me that he believes in me.”
The 6’2”, 175 pound guard from Reading, Pennsylvania, is currently ranked #86 in the country by the 247 Sports Composite ranking system in the Class of 2021. When he made his verbal commitment to the Golden Eagles in August of 2020, he was ranked at #114 in the country, a bit down from his #97 when Wojciechowski and his staff offered Mitchell a scholarship in the first place. If you need a refresher on what kind of player Mitchell is, you can check out our rundown of the reactions to his commitment right here.
That’s two of Wojciechowski’s committed recruits accounted for, leaving Kam Jones still kind of maybe up in the air. He did tweet this on the day of Shaka Smart’s introductory press conference, which seems an awful lot like he’s fully on board with the new coaching staff.
Still, that’s not an official confirmation of anything. In fact, in his interview, Mitchell isn’t quite sure about Jones’ status.
“Me and Kam have been talking a lot,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been talking about everything going on and even before everything happened we grew to know each other. Obviously he’s really talented at basketball but he’s also a really cool person. I believe he’s staying with the program but I can’t speak for him.”
I’m going to presume that Jones is still planning on attending Marquette and playing for Coach Smart until someone says otherwise. We’re now at a week past that introductory press conference and 10 days since MU made the announcement as to Smart’s hiring, so it seems like the safe bet.
Anyway, to the scholarship chart!
Jamal Cain is officially off the list for 2021-22, as he recently announced that he will play his COVID bonus season at Oakland University for head coach Greg Kampe. Guard Koby McEwen is in the transfer portal and has not made any official announcements about what he will be doing next season. The lack of official announcements goes for forward Theo John as well, but as far as I know, he’s not in the transfer portal at this point. There’s nothing stopping him from either coming back to Marquette if he wants to or still entering the portal at some point in the future as well.
Smart is looking at having four open scholarships for the 2021-22 season at this point, but we’re a long ways off from even pretending that the transfer season is over. Until you see the calendar say June on it or there’s an announcement about four prospects, the MU roster is not set.