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2021-22 Marquette Men’s Basketball Player Review: #12 Olivier-Maxence Prosper

Let’s talk about the glue guy on the roster this past season.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Marquette vs North Carolina
Feel how you want about the game, but it’s neat that we have fresh pictures of Marquette players in the NCAA tournament.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2021-22 season long since in the books, let’s take a few moments to look back at the performance of each member of YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles this year. While we’re at it, we’ll also take a look back at our player previews and see how our preseason prognostications stack up with how things actually played out. We’ll run through the roster in order of total minutes played going from lowest to highest, and today we move along to everyone’s favorite Canadian Golden Eagle……..

Olivier-Maxence Prosper

Sophomore - #12 - Forward - 6’8” - 220 pounds - Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Olivier-Maxence Prosper Traditional Stats

Games Min FGM FGA FG% 3PTM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OReb DReb Reb Ast Stl Blk Fouls Pts
Games Min FGM FGA FG% 3PTM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OReb DReb Reb Ast Stl Blk Fouls Pts
32 20.7 2.4 5.2 46.1% 0.6 1.9 31.7% 1.3 1.6 82.0% 0.6 2.7 3.3 0.9 0.9 0.1 2.1 6.6

Olivier-Maxence Prosper Fancy Stats

ORtg %Poss %Shots eFG% TS% OR% DR% ARate TORate Blk% Stl% FC/40 FD/40 FTRate
ORtg %Poss %Shots eFG% TS% OR% DR% ARate TORate Blk% Stl% FC/40 FD/40 FTRate
104.9 16.1% 16.8% 51.8% 56.2% 3.3% 13.5% 7.9% 15.2% 0.6% 2.4% 4.1 2.8 30.3%

WHAT WE SAID:

Reasonable Expectations

After being essentially benched in the season’s stretch run, Prosper’s supposed value is hard to ascertain. Is he the top prospect with potential NBA value in his future? Or is he an overhyped former prep star whose value isn’t there? The answer is clearly somewhere in the middle but probably on the upper end of the center.

This summer, Olivier went to Latvia with Team Canada and had an excellent appearance where he averaged 6.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.7 steals at the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup. He clearly showed an ability to compete with his peers on the World Stage and contribute to a competitive and successful team. This was a Canadian team that took eventual gold medalists Team USA to the wire in the semifinals and finished third at the World Cup.

O-Max is a high upside, young contributor in the immediate term that you hope excels and rises to be a focal point of a roster’s attack and defensive scheme. The question for him becomes more a matter of showing consistency and effectiveness across situations and exposer to opponents.

As a rotational piece, you hope that his athleticism, length, and energy would be critical to a high tempo scheme, and his physicality gives you both reprieve and flexibility in the signature Shaka Smart Man-to-Man defense.

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to hope for more scoring output as well from Prosper. At 2.4 points per game, it’s hard to get much lower, and when accounting for games in which he had more than four minutes in a game, his average doubles. Add in an offseason of competitive play and improvement, a hope that his shooting touch improves; you can reasonably expect him to be more of a scoring threat than his 2.4 points per game last season indicates he can be.

Olivier-Maxence Prosper is the kind of player you can very quickly talk yourself into being a high-end impactful player; the only nuisance there is being measured as to when that time will come.

Reasons To Get Excited

Underneath the basket, O-Max has fantastic touch and is an elite finisher. Especially when given the ball in hand-off or guard penetration situations. He’s a budding threat as a jump shooter, especially in the midrange but has shown, at the very least, an ability to extend that shot to the perimeter. He’s not a ball-handler in the sense that you want him being the guy breaking a press or a trap, but when asked to attack the basket, he can certainly be someone who can handle his own with the ball in his hand.

His passing skills are an underrated skill as both a ball mover, pushing in transition, and as an entry passer into the paint. It’s a skill he could show off more often and could be asked to in a new role, but he had limited opportunities to do so at Clemson last year.

As a defender, Olivier can really shine. Factor in Shaka’s suggestion to lean towards his “Havoc” defense at Marquette, and O-Max is the type of player who can excel both in that system and as an individual. The ability to guard multiple positions because of his length and agility makes him primed to fill roles both as a man-to-man defender and in the zone press that Smart likes to mix in with it.

More than anything, Prosper is a player who has all the tools to be a consistent and reliable player and will only continue to develop. He needs time and reps to get better, and given his ability to defend in a system, provide offensive upside, and has shown a winning basketball IQ, he is at the very least a prospect worth developing for the future with significant upside and could be a star right now.

Potential Pitfalls

So, with all that potential and upside being said. OMP actually has got to go out and perform. It’s hard to know why Olivier’s minutes cratered at Clemson, but they did, and it’s not as if he was an all-American before that drop-off. He’s got a lot of talent, but it never really translated in tangible ways while in South Carolina.

Could that be because of opportunity? Sure. Not the right fit? Yea sure could be. Being a freshman living in his third country in three years? That’s not easy. He did play well at the FIBA U19 World Cup, so there is some light at the end of the tunnel, but he’s got to go out and put up numbers or at the very least make a tangible impact that leads to consistent playing time.

The actual problems in his game that we know about are fairly few and far between. As a shooter, his most significant question mark isn’t so much his skill or mechanics...those skills need to be refined, but the talent is there...it’s his selection/situational awareness. He’s a tad turnover-prone, but it’s hard to say how true that is with the small sample size in playing time. He doesn’t have a great handle, but it’s certainly serviceable.

More than anything, the primary reason to be worried is can he put together all of these skills to be a high-level major conference player or, conversely, can he shake out the particularly bad ends of his flaws to minimize their impact? He’s going to get opportunities to prove himself but on a team with lots of young talent... so are a lot of guys. You hope that Olivier is the guy (or at least one of the guys) to break out and be a potential star, but there isn’t a detailed history or proof of doing so, not yet at least.

The season did not start well for Olivier-Maxence Prosper. Sure, he was literally starting, as Shaka Smart had him in the starting lineup on Night #1 of the season, but things were going poorly for him almost right out of the gate. In the first seven games of the season, all starts for O-Max, he posted a sub-100 — read as “below average” — offensive rating per KenPom.com in five of them. Four of them were sub-70. Awful. No way around it. Prosper was shooting 24% from the field at this point of the season and a very awful 15% from long range. If you were of the panicking sort, you wouldn’t have been out of line to wonder if this was why he trended towards sitting on the bench as his freshman season at Clemson wore on.

Game #8 brought around a change in the starting lineup with Kam Jones going in for Prosper.... and... this appeared to get his act together. While coming off the bench in the next four games, Prosper had four straight O-Ratings north of 110, all in 15 minutes or less of action, as well as a fifth game of just nine minutes with a rebound and an assist in the December loss to Xavier. If you like the more statistical measurements of how the message of what Smart wanted was received: O-Max shot 53% from the field and 33% from long range in this stretch.

Darryl Morsell missing a game due to health and safety protocols pushed Prosper back into the starting lineup.... and he (mostly) kept that spot for the rest of the season. It wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops for him, as he was regularly a less than efficient player in regards to that above/below 100 O-Rating... but somehow it still made sense for him to be playing 20 minutes at least a night. It wasn’t perfect, but O-Max was clearly a guy that needed to be playing for Shaka Smart. Mostly, this was coming on the defensive end as he seemed to be the guy that most bought in to what Smart needed from him every time out and kept working harder and harder and generally improving as the season went along. The stats again, to give you an idea of how it all went: 51% shooting from the field, 37% from outside the arc.

The upside and downside to Prosper seems to always be his slightly weird biomechanics. I don’t think that I’m the only person to notice that, sometimes/a lot of the time, Prosper’s movement on the basketball court..... just looks weird. Not “is clearly injured and someone has to do something about it for his safety,” but in the “is he completely out of control because this is not what a smooth Division 1 high major basketball player looks like when they are dribbling/passing/moving/driving to the rim” kind of way. His arms and legs just combine to move in what looks like unnatural angles and directions when he’s moving with the ball. Early on in the season, when he was struggling, it wasn’t out of pocket to wonder how much of how weird he looked was part of the problem. But as the season went on, O-Max clearly turned into a valuable glue guy contributor to the team while none of the biomechanical stuff went away. He always looked slightly off, but when the shots are going in and the rebounds are being grabbed, well, none of that matters any more, does it?

That’s the downside of it. The upside is that it does make him a little harder to defend. Take Marquette’s visit to Creighton in late February. Shaka Smart dialed up Prosper taking it to the rack against Ryan Kalkbrenner holding four fouls late in the game for a bucket that MU needed to pull off the win. Now, sure, it didn’t go in, which stinks. But the idea — defending O-Max’s body motion is hard, especially for a 7-footer, and especially for a 7-footer with four fouls — was a good one, and that’s the kind of thing that an off-beat look can do for you. After all, Prosper did get the shot off cleanly as he went to the rack, and that was the goal, or at least half of it.

BEST GAME

I kinda want to say it was the NCAA tournament game against North Carolina, because O-Max was amazing in that game. He had a team high 16 points on 4-for-8 shooting from long range, three rebounds, and a steal, too. But, y’know, MU got absolutely wrecked, so I don’t think we can say that one.

We can, however go ahead and give it to his season high in scoring. That was a 22 point outing on the road against Georgetown as the Golden Eagles followed up their demolition of Providence with a demolition of the Hoyas. Prosper went for 22 points on 9-for-11 shooting, including knocking in both of his long range attempts, and he added four rebounds, an assist, and two steals as well.

SEASON GRADE

How you want to grade O-Max’s season comes down to which part of it you want to assign the focus. Do you want to focus on the part of the year where he was clearly struggling, or do you want to focus on the part of the year where he took in that struggle and fixed it? If you give him credit for turning the thing around, you can give him a pretty high score for the season. But if you try to take the whole thing into account, realize that the season included the struggle and that has to be part of the grade, I don’t think you can give him a very high grade.

So let’s call it a 7. It’s a middle ground of sorts as a grade. It recognizes the good things that he did do by the end of the season, but acknowledges that for a moment there, we were all wondering if Shaka was right about his evaluation of Prosper’s ability to contribute to his preferred style of play.