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Marquette Makes A Metric Ton Of New Scholarship Offers

Shaka Smart and his staff are GETTING AFTER IT out there for both 2022 and 2023.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 21 St John’s at Marquette Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Back on June 25th, we published an article talking about three scholarship offers that came out of the Marquette men’s basketball office in the previous week. Little did I know that we were already behind the eight ball in terms of staying up to speed on what Shaka Smart and his staff are doing on the recruiting trail. Since June 23, it appears that Smart has offered another SIX scholarships.

Two of the offers are for the Class of 2022, while the other four are for the Class of 2023. We’ll start with the 2022 guys and go in chronological order of offer for each class.

A.J. Casey

Shaka Smart might be starting at Marquette a little late in the cycle for 2022 prospects, but he’s not just taking it easy. Casey is a 6’8”, 180 pound power forward prospect out of Chicago, where he attends Whitney Young. 247 Sports currently ranks him as the #21 prospect in the country. Yep. No fooling around here on the ol’ recruiting trails. Shockingly, #21 in the country is outside the five-star prospect territory. Casey is the #5 power forward recruit in his graduating class and the top prospect in the entire state of Illinois.

We should probably talk about the “#5 power forward” thing for a second. Casey is one spot behind Jalen Washington in that department according to 247. You might remember that name, as Smart offered him a scholarship back in late May. I mention this specifically because Washington plays for the Meanstreets club program. What is Casey wearing in his 247 Sports profile page picture? Sure appears to be a Meanstreets jersey. None of this seems coincidental.

Since Marquette is fashionably late to this party, then there are the expected group of heavy hitters already involved in recruiting Casey. MU will be attempting to wade in against Gonzaga, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, and Louisville. Oh, and DePaul, although that was before they made a coaching change.

Casey has had an interesting prep career already. Whitney Young is his third high school after starting at Simeon and making a move to Tinley Park for his sophomore campaign. After starting out small as a freshman — I mean, it’s Simeon, you kind of have to unless you’re a worldbeater as a 14 year old — Casey averaged 22 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 3.1 blocks for Tinley Park as a sophomore. This past season, he was a First Team All-Illinois performer while giving the Dolphins 18 points, eight rebounds, and four assists per game.

Here’s nearly five minutes of highlights that just got published in mid-May.

Desmond Claude

Claude is on the other end of the spectrum from Casey in terms of national attention in this recruiting class. The good news is that he has a 247 Sports page, so we know he’s a 6’5”, 190 pound point guard who attends St. Thomas More in Connecticut. Claude is not currently rated or ranked in the 247 Composite system, which may just be a flaw due to last summer’s club schedule getting thrown straight into the garbage at least in terms of scouts getting a chance to watch guys play. Internally, 247 says he’s the #42 point guard prospect in the country, and it appears that ranks him #239 overall.

13 scholarship offers listed by 247 with eight coming from high major programs seems to indicate that Claude is underscouted. Marquette is one of the eight and they are joined by four Big East squads: Creighton, Providence, Seton Hall, and Xavier. Kind of surprised that UConn isn’t one of them, but I’m also not paying ultra-close attention to the Huskies’ scholarship situation. Then again, all of Claude’s offers from the Big East — including Butler according to his tweets — have come since the start of June, so this is clearly a “is currently blowing up” situation.

I can’t seem to track down anything about how Claude performed this past season in terms of stats or anything, so if you know of something, fire it up in the comments for everyone to see. There are a couple of short videos of him, both just a bit over a minute, but both from 2019.

Class of 2023

Xzayvier Brown

This is the only one where we don’t have a tweet from the actual prospect in question, but Brown did retweet this specific tweet, so we’ll count that.

No one that we’re going to talk about for the Class of 2023 here is rated or ranked in 247 Sports’ Composite system at this point. This isn’t really a problem on any level because 247 is only going out to 37 prospects in that class right now. I suspect that will change by Labor Day or so as their scouts finally get a chance to pay attention to this recruiting class, but for now, we’re flying a little bit blind.

Brown does have a 247 page at this point, so we can call him a 6’1”, 155 pound point guard. He’s from Philadelpia, where he attends Roman Catholic High School, which may be the most generically named high school in the country. Brown does not have a rating or ranking in 247’s internal setup, which either means he’s underscouted at this point or he’s definitely somewhere behind Shawn Simmons (#62 in the country) in terms of ranking guys in the state of Pennsylvania.

247 does not list any schools as interested in Brown, which is fascinating on a whole different level here. A scroll backwards through Brown’s tweets — or his retweets if we’re being honest here — shows that Marquette is his first high major offer. St. Joseph’s was first on the board back in January 2020, and since the start of April of this year, Brown has snagged offers from Drexel, Cleveland State, VCU, and Fordham.

Here’s a scouting report from City Of Basketball Love, which was updated in mid-May.

A talented, cerebral point guard, Brown came onto the scene as a composed freshman at Roman and has been tough to take off the floor since. Plays the game a few years older than his age, with a great understanding of changing speeds, when to attack, when to dish, shoot, and score. Crafty with the ball in his hands and with great footwork, can get to the rim in a variety of ways, and he absorbs contact to finish well around the rim. Averaged 10 ppg and nearly seven assists as a sophomore; outside shooting (33.3% as a sophomore) and one more growth spurt are keeping him from being a high-major prospect at this point, but he’s a quality lead who makes his teammates better and plays hard at both ends.

“Plays older than he is,” “makes his teammates better,” and “plays hard at both ends” sounds like the kind of things that Shaka Smart might enjoy coaching. But I’m just guessing at this point.

A suggestion for all y’all highlight video makers out there: If your video is 61 seconds long with 10 seconds at the front and back putting your brand over and thus leaves only 41 seconds of actual highlights of the kid that you’re ostensibly trying to showcase..... maybe re-evaluate why you’re doing this?

RELATED: here’s 41 seconds of Xzayvier Brown.

Horace Simmons

Young Mr. Simmons exemplifies the underscouted situation that we’ve been talking about when it comes to 2023 prospects, as he does not currently have a 247 Sports page at all. Thankfully, his Twitter bio gives us some details beyond just the fact that he is from Philadelphia. Combining his Twitter bio with some Google results tells us that Simmons is from La Salle College High School in Philly, or to be more accurate, in Wyndmoor, PA. He stands 6’6” and weighs 185 pounds, and he calls himself a wing.

Like Brown before him, Marquette is the first high major offer for Simmons, or at least as far as he’s letting on. Drexel was the first in the door back in April of this year, and they’ve been followed by St. Joseph’s, Bryant, Albany, and Fairfield since then. I like it when the Marquette head coach is playing a game called “I know something that Jay Wright doesn’t know.”

Max Preps says that La Salle went 9-5 this past season, with all of those games coming as part of conference play. Simmons played in all 14, and averaged 12.6 points per game. That was second best on the team with four double digit scorers. Unfortunately, those are the only stats that Max Preps shows.

Here’s a quick scouting report from City Of Basketball Love as updated in April:

A versatile wing, Simmons is a dead-eye 3-point shooter, making better than 50% from beyond the arc as a sophomore. He’s got a great basketball IQ, with a strong feel for when to shoot, pass and dribble, rarely if ever forcing the action and playing within both his HS and AAU system. Also a strong defender, capable of defending four positions, and puts in a lot of effort on that end of the floor.

I like shooters.

YouTube seems to be bereft of highlight reels for Simmons, but he does have a Hudl page that was last updated in mid-March of this year.

Justin Edwards

We continue tracking down Shaka Smart’s pursuit of Philadelphia area prospects in the Class of 2023. 247 Sports says that Edwards is a 6’7”, 160 pound small forward who attends Imhotep Institute. Look, sure, there’s lots of interesting mission statement reasons involved here, and I don’t want to dismiss any of them...... but attending a high school named after Boris Karloff’s character in 1932’s The Mummy sounds pretty awesome all on its own.

While Edwards is not rated or ranked in the Composite because outside scouts haven’t gotten a good enough look at him, 247 likes him a lot. They have Edwards rated as a four-star prospect and ranked #59 in the country for his recruiting class. That makes him the #15 small forward prospect in the group, trailing along behind guys like Matas Buzelis and Jalen Hooks who have already gotten attention from the Golden Eagles. Edwards is also the #2 prospect in the whole state of Pennsylvania, trailing only #51 Rodney Gallagher.

Merely explaining the interest that Edwards is drawing from the rest of the Big East tells you what kind of a player he is. 247 says he already has offers from Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Seton Hall, and St. John’s. This is on top of Oklahoma State, Rutgers, and Tennessee amongst others.

Why stop with the scouting reports from City Of Basketball Love now?

A lanky wing with a ton of upside, Edwards is really starting to come into his own of late. A strong 3-point shooter, he spent most of his sophomore year as an inside-out specialist who can stretch the floor and also could work out of the post, but wasn’t much of a slashing threat; now, he’s starting to put the ball on the floor in line-drive situations and has developed a one-dribble pull-up to play off his 3-point abilities, especially on the wing. Has tremendous length which helps him be an effective defender who knows how to work in trap situations, and he’s an above-the-rim finisher in transition.

Not much in the way of useful YouTube videos to embed here, so hop yourself over to Edwards’ Hudl page, which was last updated in early April of this year.

Anthony Finkley

One last Philly prospect! Finkley is a 6’6”, 225 pound small forward and I immediately have several questions about how he is not rated or ranked by 247, even in their internal system. He attends West Catholic Prep, which is a half-mile or so walk from Penn in Philadelphia.

Finkley’s first college offer came from St. Joseph’s back in September of 2020, and DePaul got on the board back in November under the old coaching regime. All of his other three offers have come since the start of contact with Class of 2023 prospects: UMBC, Rutgers, and finally MU and Shaka Smart as the most recent one.

City of Basketball Love just got a look at Finkley during the last couple of weeks and he made the list of “June live period players who impressed,” which means he was impressive over and over again for Josh Verlin to include him. Here’s the scouting report:

Finkley is one of the more unique prospects around, but there’s no denying that he’s a crucial part of the Burrs’ success. A big wing forward at 6-7 and north of 220 pounds, Finkley is a natural ballplayer, comfortable with the rock in his hands, and he can attack the hoop from the 3-point line and finish deftly around the rim. He carries his size well and can guard guards as well as bigs, and he knows how to establish post position and score over both shoulders. If he improves his outside shot, watch out.

I don’t know how much of that he was showing back in the 19-20 school year, but based on that scout, it remains shocking how a guy with his size has just three high major offers right now.

Anyway. Scholarship chart time!

We can talk about 2022 and 2023 recruiting together when assessing what fits into the roster where because, right now, MU does not project to have any seniors going from 2021-22 to 2022-23. Those four projected open scholarship spots that Smart and his staff are working on for the Class of 2022 maaaaaaaybe have to be split up to leave a space or two for freshmen in the Class of 2023 just to even things out a bit.

Guards appear to the big priority, and that’s a “get that done in 2022 for sure” issue. That’s where Claude comes in for sure, and if Casey’s interested in you, then you sign him up no matter what. It’s hard to say specifically what MU needs for 2023 until we see what 2022 brings. On top of that, it’s hard to say how much Smart may or may not be reaching for recruits because 2023 guys are probably severely underscouted right now. For now, cross your fingers that all of the 2023 prospects blow up this summer and Smart looks (cough) smart for offering them before that happens.