The 2022-23 college basketball season is right around the corner, so let’s dive into the Marquette Golden Eagles basketball roster and take a look at what to expect from each player this season. We’ll be going through the roster one by one: First MU’s three freshmen in last name alphabetical order, then the lone transfer on the squad, moving on to the guy coming of a redshirt freshman year, and then finally the returning active players from last season, going in order of average minutes per game last season from lowest to highest.
We’re going to organize our thoughts about the upcoming season as it relates to each player into categories, as we always do:
- Reasonable Expectations
- Why You Should Get Excited
- Potential Pitfalls
With that out of the way, it’s time to talk about the guy who might be the most physically gifted player on the roster and has a shot at the biggest upside of the season.......
Junior - #12 - Forward - 6’8” - 230 pounds - Montreal, Quebec
We saw one of the better “I am figuring this out” campaigns from O-Max last season. You can go back and read his season review to get the rundown of exactly what happened from section to section of the season, but the fact of the matter is that he started out not good and turned into pretty good in the back half of the season. If the Prosper that we saw from December 21st, the game where Shaka Smart restored him to the starting lineup, onwards is indicative of the Prosper that we see for the majority of this season, I think we’re all going to feel pretty great about it.
In the final 20 games of the year, Prosper averaged 7.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. He shot 36.6% from long range, which is exactly what you love to see from a 6’8” dude since that wrecks havoc with how opposing teams have to defend him. He also chipped in a steal and an assist per game while shooting better than 51% from the field overall.
Now, looking back at it again, we do have to point out that O-Max’s shooting numbers are a liiiiiiitle bit inflated by Marquette’s Big East and NCAA tournament games. The French Canadian shot 9-for-16 from the field overall and a very silly 6-for-11 from behind the three-point line. Maybe he can keep 56% from the field going in 2022-23.... but he ain’t shooting 55% from behind the arc for 30 games. I mean, I would like to see him do it, but let’s not cross our fingers either, y’know?
The answer to what to expect from Prosper this season comes down to what you think his role on the team is going to be. We talked about it a little bit in the Kam Jones preview, as I think Jones is set up to be a massive scoring star for the Golden Eagles this season. The fact of the matter is that someone has to start scoring for Marquette with Justin Lewis and Darryl Morsell, last year’s only two double-digit averages, no longer around.
I think it’s not wrong to think that Prosper could be that guy. O-Max has probably the most exciting collection of physical attributes and talents on the team. Between his size, his strength, his agility, his ballhandling, it’s easy to draw a straight line from “Marquette needs a top end scorer” to “O-Max could be the top scorer that Marquette needs.” T-Rank is right there, projecting him as the leading scorer at 13.6 points per game this season while playing about 30 minutes a night. 4.6 rebounds as well, along with 1.5 assists per game is the underlying statistical stuff there.
I’m not 100% sold on O-Max as a big time scorer, but this projection has Marquette playing ultra-fast, nearly a possession and a half faster per game on average. If you want to subscribe to an idea that Prosper will end up being the leading scorer by average on a team that’s not 100% quite dominated by any single scorer, I can get behind that idea pretty easily.
Why You Should Get Excited
My biggest question mark in my head as to why O-Max might not be the tippity top scoring threat on this team probably has more to do with what he’s capable of doing on both ends of the floor. I think it’s possible that the Golden Eagles’ coaching staff turns him loose on defense as well as on offense. However, maybe that defensive effort means that he doesn’t live up to his nickname. Get it? He’s not going to be O-Max?
Yeah, it’s not that funny, but I refuse to apologize.
But think about this: O-Max is the bulkiest dude on the team, outweighing David Joplin and Ben Gold by 10 pounds and clearing both of Marquette’s two most likely center options — Oso Ighodaro and Keeyan Itejere — by 15 pounds each. Is there a world where Shaka Smart elects to play some “small ball” with Prosper at the 5 just because his physical talents and measurements give the team the best matchups against the bigger centers that MU will face this year? Remember, watching Ighodaro tangle with the Adama Sanogos and Ryan Kalkbrenners of the world is one of the things to worry about for his season. What if the solution is rolling 10 or 15 minutes a game at center over to Prosper? It’s wild to think about, but Marquette could, in theory, pop out a lineup that can shoot it, 1 through 5, and they would be playing an incredibly mobile guy at the 5 who would swallow up opposing guards with his wingspan on switches as well as be able to be physically imposing.
Maybe it’s not going to be the version of getting excited that makes you jump out of your seat every time he does something, but I think O-Max’s most notable contribution to this team can (should?) be on the defensive end of the floor. Maybe in that “small ball” situation I described, maybe just playing a normal forward position. He has the tools to be a problem for whoever he is guarding, and if Marquette isn’t going to have a notably dominant scorer and they’re going to get by with whoever’s hot on a given night, then they’re going to have to be strong on defense on every single possession. If O-Max is causing the kind of dysfunction that a guy of his abilities is capable of, then I think Marquette’s going to be scary good at coming up with stops.
I don’t even know if there’s a real downside for him this season. What’s the worst case scenario in a world where he’s available for every game this season? He just repeats last year’s 6.6 points and 3.3 rebounds with an assist and a steal per game as well? That would probably be disappointing from a player development perspective, but if he’s doing that while making an impact on defense and Marquette’s winning, are you really going to care all that much?
If Prosper figured out how to excel for Shaka Smart in the later stages of last season, and I think it’s clear he did, I don’t see any way he doesn’t clear that very low bar of a worst case scenario.