The Marquette women’s basketball season starts on Monday! Holy crap!
You already read up on the players returning from last year’s roster, right? If not, you should do that immediately, if not sooner. Here we’re going to talk about the new faces on the roster. One of them is a transfer who has a history with head coach Megan Duffy, and the other four are freshmen. One of the freshmen might seem like she has a much better chance to impact the team directly out of the gate than the others, but we’ll see what happens as the season gets going.
Let’s figure out what the coaching staff has at their disposal this season, shall we?
Senior - #1 - Guard - 5’9” - Indianapolis, Indiana
While Clark is one of the new faces on the team, she has the longest standing relationship with Megan Duffy. Clark was recruiting to Miami when Duffy was the head coach there, and she started in six of her nine appearances in 2018-19 before suffering a season ending injury. Duffy left following that campaign to take the Marquette job, which led to Clark transferring to Xavier. She was a most of the time starter for the Musketeers during her time in Cincinnati, averaging 11.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game in 30 appearances. Yes, she was there for two seasons and only played 30 games for Xavier. Part of that is because of XU only playing 13 games in the 2020-21 COVID season.... and the other part is because Xavier head coach Melanie Moore kicked Clark off the team in February last season.
No explanation from Xavier on that, so no solid idea as to what the reason was. I would presume that Duffy was in contact with Moore about it, particularly since the two programs are in the same conference. Given that Duffy has known Clark going back to at least 2017, it’s safe to say that the two had a heart-to-heart cards on the table talk about whatever caused the rift at Xavier.
Clark will be available this season for sure, as she’s only ever played two full seasons of hoops. She may have only her COVID bonus season of eligibility left after 2022-23, but she also might have a medical redshirt available after her injury shortened first year of college hoops. Marquette has never issued a press release on Clark’s addition to the roster, so things are still murky there.
As for how she fits into this year’s team? There’s a starting guard spot available with Karissa McLaughlin’s lone season in Milwaukee coming to an end. In theory, Clark knows how to start and play big minutes in the Big East, so she’s a natural fit in that regard. She shot 44% and 37% from long range in her first two seasons of college hoops (yes, a very short first one, but stick with me here) on three-ish attempts per game in both cases, and if Clark can replicate that again, then there’s a big role for her since MU does not have a shooting threat returning to the roster. If she’s shooting 27% from long range and turning it over on over 20% of possessions like she has in all three campaigns she’s played in so far? Hoooooboy, could be a long year if Duffy feels that she owes it to Clark to give her minutes.
Freshman - #12 - Guard - 5’9” - Naperville, Illinois
Let’s start with this part: When Hare (pronounced like the hair on your head) committed to Marquette, everything I read about her had her as Kenzie Hare, including her own Twitter. Marquette is listing her as Mackenzie. I don’t know what this means other than we’re gonna call her Mackenzie because that’s how the team is listing her.... on the official roster. In Twitter graphics? Different story.
Hare is the most recent addition to the freshman recruiting class after making her commitment and signing with the Golden Eagles this past spring. She was originally committed and signed to play for Saint Louis this year, but SLU made a coaching change and that got Hare free from her letter of intent. Hare was an all-state player in all four years of her high school career, which involved three years at Bartlett and one at Naperville North. She averaged 20.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 3.1 steals to wrap up her prep career with just short of 2,500 points scored.
While she was an incredibly productive high school player, she was going to be headed to the Atlantic 10 for college hoops until SLU changed the direction of their program. That leads us to ask whether or not Hare is ready to contribute immediately to the Golden Eagles. If you figure that Jordan King and Nia Clark are your starting backcourt with Rose Nkumu, Claire Kaifes and Makiyah Williams as returning players in the rotation behind them.... well, things start getting a little bit crowded, and if we remember that Duffy doesn’t seem to like playing freshman all that much.... well, we’ll have to wait and see how it goes, I guess.
Emily La Chapell
Freshman - #21 - Guard - 5’11” - Appleton, Wisconsin
Let’s hit the important part first: law shuh-PELL is how you’re going to pronounce Emily’s last name. I don’t know if it helps your brain process it, but once I said it out loud, I thought of it as taking on the French accent to it.
Okay, second most important part: La Chapell is ranked #77 in the country by ESPN. I would like to think that a top 100 prospect is going to get playing time straight out of the gate. I also think it is very good that Marquette was able to keep a top 100 prospect in the state for her collegiate career. The Marquette Wire did the math for me, and yes, La Chapell is Megan Duffy’s first top 100 prospect at Marquette and the first Wisconsin prospect as well.
La Chapell wrapped up her prep career as Appleton East’s all-time leading scorer with 1,885 points, and the team — as coached by her father — went 83-19 during her time on the roster. The Patriots went all the way to the state Division 1 championship game last season, their first trip to the end stage of the tournament since 1998. SEEMS GOOD, much like La Chapell’s 20.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.8 steals a night.
Her biggest pathway to getting on the court in Game #1? She hit 40.4% of her three-pointers in her junior season and 37.9% as a senior. I can’t stress the point enough that Marquette needs to hit threes this season, and if La Chapell can do it, whether as MU’s fifth starter or as a microwave coming off the bench, that’s going to go a long way for both her playing time as well as MU’s team success.
Freshman - #2 - Guard - 5’8” - Westport, Connecticut
Here we bump into the same issue as with Mackenzie Hare, except mostly the other way around. I was mostly always seeing her full name, Aizhanique, when reading about Mayo when she committed to Marquette in September 2021. But I did see her get mentioned as Nique Mayo here and there, and that includes some fall photoshoots that the Golden Eagles posted on Twitter.
Now, if you thought it was neat that Emily La Chapell guided her high school team to an 83-19 record, can I interest you in Mayo’s squad going 77-5? She attended Notre Dame Catholic in Connecticut, which means yes, this means that Megan Duffy pulled a Big East recruit out of UConn’s backyard. “Yeah, Andy, but UConn recruits whoever they want, they don’t need to worry about local prospects.” What about players that are named state Player of the Year by MaxPreps? That’s Mayo, who earned that honor in her junior season on the back of a 20.4 point, 6.8 rebound, 7.0 assist, 5.0 steal per game average. She pretty much did the exact same thing as a senior while shooting 47% from long range.
I can not say this enough: If anything resembling quality three-point shooting translates to high major college hoops for any of these freshmen, please give them the greenest of lights and all of the playing time that they can shake a stick at. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
Freshman - #5 - Forward - 6’1” - Columbus, Ohio
I’m always fascinated when Megan Duffy recruits in Ohio. After all, she’s from Ohio, the Dayton area in particular, and she got her collegiate head coaching start at Miami. This always gives me the vibe that she’s got a little bit extra connection and a little bit extra inside info as to an underappreciated prospect.
I say this because my gut instinct on Charia Smith is that she’s the least heralded of Marquette’s four freshmen. Emily La Chapell gets the national ranking attention, Mackenzie Hare scored a bajillion points, Aizhanique Mayo was the state player of the year.... and all Smith did was averaged 20.1 points and 7.1 rebounds as a senior to guide Westerville North to a perfect 12-0 record in conference play after a 12&7 junior year.
See? Obviously good, but not quite the bright shiny light that we’re getting from everyone else. My gut instinct is that Smith is the newcomer — including Clark in this calculation — that is at the back of the line when it comes to immediate impact on this year’s team. Part of that is the accolades for everyone else, and part of that is what appears to be Duffy’s general reluctance to play freshmen. The Golden Eagles will be trying to get back to the NCAA tournament this year, and if Smith can help make that happen, then she’s got to get on the floor to do that.