Ever since late April, shortly after new Marquette men’s basketball head coach Shaka Smart put out a press release announcing five newcomers to the program, we’ve been expecting more movement on the roster. Smart and his assistants have kept right on recruiting in the transfer portal even though they didn’t appear to have space within the NCAA’s scholarship limit of 13 to add anyone to the team for this coming fall unless Dawson Garcia stayed in the NBA Draft. Let’s be honest: Recruiting your 6’11” star forward off the team is a bad plan, so it always felt like someone else was going to be leaving eventually.
And now, we have that someone.
On Thursday afternoon, the always plugged in Jake Weingarten reported that junior guard Jose Perez was expected to enter the transfer portal and thus depart Marquette.
Marquette guard Jose Perez is expected to enter the transfer portal, a source told @Stockrisers. Appeared in 10 games for the Golden Eagles this season after transferring from Gardner-Webb.— Jake (@jakeweingarten) May 13, 2021
Was All-Big South first team and All-Big South freshman team in 2018-19.
About an hour later, Weingarten reported that it was officially done.
Jose Perez is officially in the transfer portal, a source told @Stockrisers. I expect several suitors for the Marquette transfer who had a dominant freshman year at Gardner-Webb. https://t.co/RiGUI5rSqc— Jake (@jakeweingarten) May 13, 2021
A little later on in the day, noted hoops insider Adam Zagoria had it straight from Perez himself.
Perez had an incredibly weird year with the Golden Eagles. He was announced as transferring to Marquette back in May of 2020, but as a traditional transfer, he was expected to sit out for the 2020-21 season. All of that changed in late November when MU suddenly announced that Perez had received a waiver to play immediately. This was months after D.J. Carton’s waiver came through and was on the cusp of the season starting.
If the plan was for Perez to redshirt and get ready for the Big East up until very late in the preseason, well, in retrospect, that makes a lot of sense, Perez played in MU’s first two games, although he only played a couple of garbage time minutes in the second game. After that, Perez would not play again until February 6th, when he suddenly played 13 minutes off the bench against Creighton. He would then play in every Marquette game..... right up until he did not make the trip to New York for the Big East tournament for what was called personal reasons at the time.
That ended up being MU’s last game of the season as they got blasted out of the building by Georgetown. Given the explanation for Perez’s absence at The Garden, it wasn’t a deep jump to think that his time at Marquette was drawing to a close...... but that didn’t happen. Not as Steve Wojciechowski was fired, not as Shaka Smart was hired, and not as the new head coach started off-season workouts with the existing roster.
Until Thursday, that is.
All told, Perez appeared in 10 total games for Marquette. He averaged 3.1 points, 0.7 rebounds, and 0.4 assists per game in what little playing time he did get. Part of his limit on action had to have been due to his shooting, which was very not good. 32% from the field, 29% from long range, and 60% from the free throw line are his final shooting percentages, and there’s nothing there to like at all.
And now, the new Marquette scholarship chart.
As you can see from the chart, Marquette now has 11 projected scholarship players for the 2021-22 season. If Dawson Garcia withdraws from the NBA Draft, he will make 12 players. That gives Smart and his staff one more spot on the roster to work with if they see fit. Given that nine of the projected 11 players — or 10 of 12 if Garcia returns — are either freshmen or sophomores, I would wager that the smartest thing for the coaching staff to do is to focus on grad transfers or guys looking to spend their COVID bonus seasons.
Adding another sophomore would only log jam that class up even worse, leading to a need to make a huge splash in recruiting in a few years. Adding a grad transfer/COVID bonus player would give MU a much needed burst of veteran experience immediately. If said veteran player happened to be a point guard, even better. As things stand right now, it certainly looks like Marquette’s starting point guard on opening night next season is Stevie Mitchell. I’m not against it, but it also wouldn’t hurt to let Mitchell get his feet wet at this level of college hoops as an apprentice to an experienced lead guard.