And now, it’s time to finally publish an article about Marquette Golden Eagles men’s basketball recruiting that I’ve been chipping away at for days. Head coach Shaka Smart and his staff made a new scholarship offer for the Class of 2022 last week along with two more offers for the 2023 recruiting class. We’ll start with the 2022 guy before moving along to the other two.......
Blessed to receive an offer from Coach Smart & staff at Marquette University!! pic.twitter.com/x2a6wYT8sk— Christian Watson (@ChrisWatson_11) June 18, 2021
We have to start with properly identifying the prospect in question here. This young man is the Christian Watson that is listed as a 6’6”, 192 pound small forward out of Washington, D.C., in the Class of 2022 by 247 Sports. He is not the Christian Watson that is listed as a 6’4”, 150 pound point guard out of California in the Class of 2022. There’s a noticeable difference there in a number of ways, so keep your head on a swivel.
Anyway, our Christian Watson is currently rated as a three-star prospect by 247 Sports’ Composite system and is ranked #231 in the country. He’s the #50 small forward prospect in the country and the #4 player in D.C., where he attends St. John’s College High School. The fourth best player in D.C. maybe doesn’t sound that impressive, but you have to realize that this means that 247 Sports thinks he’s the best player in the District that doesn’t attend Gonzaga Prep.
I’m looking at a list of 13 scholarship offers for Watson with Marquette making it 14 according to 247 Sports. There’s a lot of local interest in Watson, as you would expect, led by Georgetown in terms of high major attention. If we start expanding outwards, LSU and Penn State have made an offer as have Big East rivals Providence and Xavier. Maryland and Michigan have also shown interest, but this is starting to veer into “if they’re not going to offer at this point, they might not actually ever offer.” The coaching change at Marquette changes the equation on the timing for Shaka Smart and the Golden Eagles, of course. Then again, this article from last summer says that Marquette was expressing interest at the time, so the good news is that Smart and his staff are not starting from zero with Watson in terms of everything else outside of basketball at MU.
I found this scouting report on EndlessMotor.net, with the last part being the most interesting part:
We’re really high on Christian as a prospect. A lengthy 6’7 perimeter shotmaker that can generate offense off the dribble with good athleticism is a valuable commodity in modern basketball. Watson’s defensive versatility is very intriguing, as he has the size and mobility to defend multiple positions. We fully expect him to have a big Summer on the EYBL circuit and become one of the most coveted 2022s in the nation.
Here’s four minutes of highlights.
Watson does have a Hudl page that was last updated in March of this year, so there’s more than enough highlights to keep you busy for a while.
I think the move is to put the scholarship chart here, since Watson is a 2022 prospect and we’re already in the stretch run so to speak for that recruiting class.
With the proliferation of mid-to-high 6-footers on the team for 2022-23, I don’t think Watson specifically fills a need for Marquette. Kur Kuath is the only guaranteed departure from the team, and Greg Elliott might be gone if he passes on using his COVID bonus year at Marquette. Most of the rest of the returning roster would be relatively the same physical size as Watson, so he’s not guaranteed to be able to chip in immediately.
With that said, if Shaka Smart is looking at trying to get a roster full of 6’4” to 6’8” athletic guys who can run, jump, and shoot, well, I’m certainly not going to shout and complain about it.
Okay, let’s move on to the 2023 guys who recently got new offers!
Taft 2023 wing Rayvon Griffith received scholarship offers this week from schools that include Alabama, Florida State, Louisville, Missouri and Marquette, according to Taft coach Demarco Bradley. Duke is showing significant interest and may soon offer a scholarship. @WCPO— Mike Dyer (@MikeDyer) June 19, 2021
Here we see Marquette dipping their toes into the deep end of the pool. Griffith is a 6’4”, 180 pound shooting guard out of Cincinnati, Ohio, where he attends Taft High School. If you’re wondering why the local sports guy is paying deep attention to the offers coming in for him, well, that’s because 247 Sports’ Composite system says that Griffith is a five-star prospect in the Class of 2023. He’s currently ranked #25 in the country and #3 amongst shooting guards in the recruiting class behind only Canadian prospect Elijah Fisher (#4 overall) and K.J. Lewis (#20) out of El Paso. I don’t want to say that Griffith is far and away the best prospect in Ohio as he’s the only Ohio prospect in 247’s top 37. If we switch over to 247’s internal rankings, there are two more guys in the top 75, including Lawrent Rice who picked up an offer from Smart earlier in the week.
At least according to what 247 Sports is keeping track of, Griffith has surprisingly few scholarship offers for a top 25 prospect. I suspect COVID has something to do with this, as that limited the camps that he could have attended a year ago, but there’s only nine total offers listed and only seven of them are high majors. Kansas, Louisville, and Ohio State are the big names there, along with hometown Cincinnati. Of course, there’s also Alabama and Florida State in the tweet above as recent offers that are notable. I’m not sure why Big East rival Xavier is only listed as interested and not offering given the “in the same city” thing, but there you go.
As a freshman in 2019-20, Griffith averaged 16.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game for Taft as it appears that the team went 16-5 overall. In his sophomore year this past season, Taft reached the Ohio Division III semifinals while Griffith earned first team all-state honors while averaging 23.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 2.3 steals per game.
Here’s four minutes of highlights from September 2020.
If you want, you can check out this nine minute long highlight package from the aforementioned state semifinal game. It shows clips from both teams, but you’re watching #3 in black. Griffith’s team loses on a buzzer beater, by the way.
Very blessed to have received a scholarship offer from Marquette University! Huge thanks to @CoachShakaSmart and @coachnberry13! #gogoldeneagles pic.twitter.com/CkNhgBetPt— Asa Thomas (@AsaThomas13) June 20, 2021
If Shaka Smart is getting involved this quickly after contact can be initiated with Class of 2023 recruits, then I have to wonder if Thomas is on the verge of a blow up. The 6’5”, 185 pound small forward from Lake Forest, Illinois, is currently unrated and unranked by both 247 Sports’ Composite and internal ranking systems. Marquette is one of just four schools listed as having offered him a scholarship with DePaul and Illinois, and Northwestern, and the Golden Eagles were the first of the three according to Thomas’ own tweets. Speaking of his tweets, he’s had offers recently from Oklahoma and new head coach Porter Moser as well as Virginia Tech.
Like I said, impending blow up potential here.
Here’s a scouting report from recent events as published by the Chicago Sun-Times:
It starts with the effortless shooting stroke and release out of his hand. That’s what immediately jumps out at you. If Yorkville Christian’s Jaden Schutt is the state’s best shooter, Thomas isn’t far behind. This is an elite shooter that high-major programs will be on board with sooner than later. Some already are following the weekend.
He put on a show with a 37-point performance against Proviso East and backed it up the next day hitting an array of shots from all over the floor.
Thomas keeps growing, inching his way towards a legit 6-7, maturing as a player and is finally starting to play with more assertiveness. He has size, range, an effortless shot that breeds consistency and has been billed as a baby Kyle Korver by the Hoops Report.
And another blurb from the same CST writer back in April of this year:
Three-point shooting has never been more important in the college game than it is today. That’s why Lake Forest’s Asa Thomas will attract college coaches in droves going forward. Now it’s a matter of what level those Division I coaches will be.
The 6-6 Thomas, who plays with the Illinois Wolves, has an effortless stroke from the three-point line. He’s an elite shooter off the catch as a spot-up shooter and can get his shot off with a rather quick release. The next step is successfully attacking closeouts and getting where he needs to get with the basketball. Adding weight and strength as he naturally fills out and matures physically will help with that.
I don’t have anything to embed here for you, but Thomas does have a Hudl page that was last updated in mid-March of this year. There’s bunches and bunches of clips for you to watch over there.
Circling back to the scholarship chart for a second to wrap up, it’s hard to get a grasp on where Marquette is going/should be going for the Class of 2023. MU projects with three open scholarships for 2022-23 and with no seniors currently expected on that roster, those same three spots are the only open spots for 2023-24. This is college basketball we’re talking about, so the odds of things staying this way for the next 700 days are very low.
With that said, I’m not going to complain about the idea of adding a five star prospect from a Big East rival’s backyard or a lights out shooter from Chicago. We’ll see where things go between now and then.