By now, you should be more than familiar with our series of regularly updating leaderboards for various Marquette Golden Eagles sports accomplishments. Keep checking back to that link in the previous sentence for our charts as the seasons continue to churn through history and MU’s various teams continue to create new memories and accomplishments.
This time around, we’re going to talk about the best junior year shot blockers in program history. In particular, we’re going to look at Oso Ighodaro’s trajectory towards the top end of the list.
The first thing that we have to do when talking about shot blocking is marvel at what the mid-1990s were for swats in Marquette history. After Dwayne Johnson established the junior year program record of 47 in 1984 and Walter Downing took a run at it with 40 the next season, things got quiet for a stretch. Whether that’s because of a dearth of shot blockers on the roster or just a lack of juniors doing it, well, that’s up to you to decide.
In any case, Jim McIlvaine wrecked Johnson’s record in 1993, knocking 79 shots off their trajectory, zipping straight past Johnson by a whopping 42 blocks. Two years later, Amal McCaskill took a run at Mac’s junior year record, but fell short by just two at season’s end. The very next year, Faisal Abraham became just the third Marquette junior ever to officially record 50 blocks in a season, getting to 58 and third place all time. What a run!
At this point in the show, I would like to apologize to Theo John, as we never generated this tracker for his ascent up the junior year chart. In 2020, John became the fourth Marquette junior to record 50 blocks in a season, and we just totally blanked on paying tribute to him at the time in this regard. Theo John remains underrated as it feels like most people forget that he finished up his career with the second most blocks in Marquette history/the most non-McIlvaine blocks in program history.
That brings us to 2023, where Oso Ighdaro is averaging 1.8 blocks per game through 11 contests. That might not sound particularly impressive, but that gets him to 20 already this season. He’s just 16 away from Chris Otule’s 10th most blocks by a junior, so Ighodaro’s entry to the top 10 at his current pace is somewhere less than 11 games away.
At his current pace, with 21 guaranteed games left on the schedule, Ighodaro is on track to finish the year with 57 blocks. That would be enough for the fourth most by a Marquette junior and just one short of Abraham’s 58 in third place. Add a couple of postseason games past MU’s guaranteed one Big East tournament game and boom, you’ve got a top three mark no problem.
Can he get past McCaskill or McIlvaine in the top two spots? I’m not going to say it’s impossible.... but it would kind of require Ighodaro to average three blocks a game for the rest of the season. I can see a world where that’s possible, but yeah, it feels a little bit out of the range of possibilities.
Still: Third Best Junior Year In Program History is pretty dang awesome, so we’ll be watching to see how far up the list he can go. If you’re wondering when to really start watching, Ighodaro is on pace to pass Otule for the 10th most blocks on Saturday, January 21st, when Marquette visits Seton Hall.
IN SEASON UPDATE [1/20/23]: Hey, look at that, Ighodaro is exactly tied with Otule heading into that Seton Hall game. How’s that for consistency?
Here’s the list as it stands after Marquette’s February 1st game against Villanova.
Marquette MBB Junior Year Blocks Chart