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More Marquette Recruiting Action In The Portal

Shaka Smart and his assistants continue to work the phones and the DMs.

Fort Myers Tip-Off
Is Taylor Funk (#33) an answer for Marquette in the middle next season?
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Hey, did you see our rundown of Marquette men’s basketball’s early forays into recruiting in the transfer portal? You should do that if you haven’t already!

That was almost a week ago, so it’s time to update y’all with what we know that Shaka Smart and his staff are up to. As we did last time, we’ll start with the scholarship chart...

There’s still no word on Justin Lewis even testing the NBA Draft waters, so for the time being, we list him as returning for his junior season in 2022-23. If he ends up going pro, then that gives Smart and his staff two open scholarships to use in the portal if they see fit to do so. They also have to balance whatever decision they make now against the fact that MU projects to have no seniors next season, and filling out the roster on guys with eligibility past the spring of 2023 means there will be no new additions for 2023-24.

Onwards we go........

Taylor Funk

Funk is listed as a 6’8”, 215 pound forward by St. Joseph’s. 2021-22 was his fourth full season of eligibility for the Hawks, including a 2019-20 season that was shut down after seven games due to injury. That will make him available for only the 2022-23 season on his bonus year of eligibility.

He made his way into the starting lineup midway through his freshman season and has pretty much stayed there ever since. He has 120 career appearances for SJU, and has averaged 12.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists across that stretch. Those are pretty consistent numbers, although we should point out that he’s at 14.9/6.2/1.6 in the last two seasons where he started every single game. He’s also a career 35% three-point shooter, including hitting 37.3% of his attempts this past season, which was in the top 500 in the country.

With Marquette’s primary need being “dude who cleans glass like industrial strength Windex,” I’m not 100% sure that Funk is a solid fit for the Golden Eagles, or at least the best possible fit. He’s a perfectly acceptable rebounder on both ends, but he also didn’t make it into the KenPom top 500 in terms of rate this season. Or last season, either. That might be a matter of how St. Joseph’s deployed him on the floor more than anything, since they were a top 50 defensive rebounding squad this year. If he’s willing to become a rebound monster to help the squad out in his final year of college hoops, then that would work out pretty well, I think.

Noah Carter

The Panthers listed Carter at 6’6” and 229 pounds this past season. They marked him on the roster as a sophomore, but that’s because they were doing the same roster chicanery that Marquette was doing. 2022-23 will be his fourth season of eligibility with a possible fifth COVID bonus year if he’s interested in it.

He’s never been a full time starter for Northern Iowa after playing sporadically as a freshman and going in and out of the starting lineup in his second season. He started the 2021-22 season coming off the bench, but head coach Ben Jacobson settled his lineup in early January and Carter started all 20 remaining games in their season. The Dubuque native wraps up his time in Cedar Falls with a three season average of 10.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game in 84 appearances. This past year, he was at 15.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. Narrow that down to just his stretch in the starting lineup? 16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists.

Perfectly fine numbers to add to the roster, if all you’re looking to do is add a quality player, perhaps even doubly so if you’re looking to fill a Justin Lewis shaped hole in the roster. This is where we get into the red flags of the situation. While his rebounding numbers per game are fine, he’s not really a productive rebounder in terms of rate. Carter picked it up on the defensive end in Missouri Valley play this year, and he was a top 250 guy on the defensive end in 2020-21. But it’s not jump off the page stuff either, especially for a team that has a rebounding problem.

Marquette also has to take a long hard look at what’s going on with his three-point shooting. Carter has gotten progressively worse from long range, going from 40% on 40 attempts as a freshman, to 33% on 101 attempts, to a very not okay 28% on 128 attempts this past season. 32% in MVC play this season is just under what you’d call passable long range shooting. Shaka Smart has said that if you want to play for him at Marquette at a position other than center, you have to be able to shoot the three. Right now, I’d say there’s a question as to whether or not Carter can do that.... especially since he’s not going to be playing a lot of small-ball 5 with Oso Ighodaro and Keeyan Itejere on the roster.

Alex Tchikou

This is an interesting one to watch. Tchikou was in his second season at Alabama this past year after rupturing his Achilles tendon prior to the 2020-21 season starting. The 6’11”, 230 pound big man from France has been in the United States since he was 16 and spent time at a couple of prep schools, including Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, before making his way to Tuscaloosa. Coming out Dream City Christian Academy in Arizona as a high school prospect, he was #65 in the country according to the 247 Sports Composite rankings.

Tchikou ultimately only played in three games for Alabama this season, and that was only for a total of five minutes in late November. It’s clear he’s looking for a fresh start at this point, and to a certain extent, he’s kind of an unknown at the high major level. With the guys on the Crimson Tide roster, you can’t really fault head coach Nate Oats for not giving a lot of run to the big guy coming off an Achilles tear.

The flip side of that is that Alabama has been a run it up and down the court type team in all three seasons under Oats... and that’s exactly the kind of basketball that Shaka Smart wants to play, particularly on offense. You can see how 6’11” and 230 pounds fits into the picture for Marquette pretty easily.... but that’s also going to require Tchikou to be able to move at the speeds necessary to actually get on the court with his at least questionable wheel. How much of his lack of playing time was just fitness at the start of the year and Oats getting a rotation that he liked.... and how much was “Tchikou can’t do what we need him to do at the speeds we need him to go”? If it’s A, then maybe he works out okay at Marquette. If it’s B? Then I don’t see a fit.