On Friday afternoon, Marquette men’s basketball forward Zach Wrightsil announced that he will miss the remainder of the 2022-23 campaign after season ending surgery.
Here’s the text from his Instagram post, for the record in case you can’t see it:
This year went from being my best to my most challenging in a matter of months. After trying to play through injury it was clear that I would have to sit out this season and have surgery. I’ve broke down more times then I can count and felt that all hope was lost. The only thing that brought me back was God and those close to me. There is something bigger in store for me and I am trusting this process. With all of my faith I’ll say that I’ve come too far to stop now and I will be back believe it.⚡️
Wrightsil was the 2022 NAIA Player of the Year at Loyola University New Orleans, averaging 18.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. LU won the NAIA national championship behind his leadership, recording 19 points and 12 rebounds in the title game. The question always whether or not he could make the leap from NAIA up over Division 3 and Division 2 in the NCAA to the Big East, but we never got anything resembling an answer on that topic. After undergoing a knee scope right after he arrived on campus during the summer, Wrightsil played in a total of 26 minutes spread across Marquette’s first four games, including missing the Central Michigan game in the first week of the regular season due to the same knee injury issue that is now forcing him to sit out the remainder of the year. He did have 17 minutes of action against LIU in game #4 that maybe kind of looked like he was turning a health corner, going for two points, five rebounds, and two assists in that one, but he never got on the court again.
This is awful for Wrightsil, by the way. Everything he was saying coming into the year made it sound like Wrightsil was fired up about the opportunity to show what he can do at this level of college hoops. It seemed like he was going provide Marquette with an interesting dimension on the court as something of a Swiss Army Knife type of player, and it really stinks that he’s not getting a chance to do that.
In terms of impact on Marquette as a team.... it’s pretty much non-existent at this point. The rotation is what it is, the roles on the team are what they are, and whatever they were before the season started, they’ve been altered now to the point where Shaka Smart seems like he has a cohesive unit. They’re on track for an NCAA tournament at-large bid with Wrightsil playing a total of 26 minutes and just three minutes in MU’s games against top 100 opponents. Whatever Marquette has accomplished against their most notable opponents this season, they’ve done it without any contribution from Wrightsil, and that’s not going to change the rest of the way now.
That brings us to Marquette’s scholarship chart......
As you can see from the top of the 2023-24 column, Marquette projected to be one player over the NCAA scholarship limit of 13 for next season. Wrightsil was the only player on the roster that was expected to be done with his eligibility after 2022-23, and now it seems that he might not be. One would expect that Wrightsil would be eligible for an NCAA medical hardship waiver for another season of eligibility, even though he was on a COVID bonus year of eligibility in the first place.... but there’s currently not expected to be a spot on the Marquette roster for him to use. There already wasn’t a spot for one of the 11 guys with eligibility remaining on this year’s active roster to come back in 2023-24 anyway so there’s definitely not space for Wrightsil and the other 10 guys and the three freshmen that Marquette announced as signed in November.
Is it possible that Marquette has two spots open up between now and November 2023 that solves all of this and brings a fully healthy Wrightsil back for a final full season? Sure! Maybe Olivier-Maxence Prosper impresses enough pro scouts between now and the end of the season and he leaves for a pro career. Maybe Oso Ighodaro pays off all the talk about how many college credits he had when he enrolled at Marquette and grad transfers, or maybe pro scouts are impressed by the volume of his playmaking across the board and he opts for a pro career. Maybe Emarion Ellis’ stress fracture surgery leads to his departure from the active roster, either by medical retirement or transfer. Maybe something I’m not aware of results in someone making a decision to leave Marquette for whatever reason they deem to be the best possible decision for them. Or maybe Wrightsil transfers to play somewhere else for his extra season of eligibility.... or maybe he and his doctors determine that he just doesn’t have the athleticism needed to play college hoops again next fall.
There’s A LOT of possibilities in play here, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.