On Tuesday, Marquette men’s basketball and head coach Shaka Smart picked up their third Class of 2023 commitment, as Tre Norman announced his verbal pledge to play for the Golden Eagles.
For the record, that’s not Tre Norman’s Twitter, which is actually @trenorman04, but it is the only video of his commitment ceremony that seems to be on the Twitter Machine. If you’re wondering why there’s a Happy Birthday in there, Tuesday was September 6th, which would have been Terrence Clarke’s 21st birthday. Clarke hailed from Boston, just like Norman, and after attending Kentucky for one season and declaring for the NBA Draft, he was killed in a traffic collision. Norman went out of his way to pick September 6th as his commitment day as a way to honor Clarke.
Norman is listed by 247 Sports as a 6’3”, 175 pound shooting guard. They currently have him rated and ranked as a four-star prospect in their Composite system at #85 in the country. That makes him the #12 shooting guard prospect at the national level and the second best collegiate prospect in the state of Massachusetts behind only top 25 guy TJ Power.... who happens to be Norman’s teammate at Worcester Academy. Internally, 247 likes Norman a tad more than the rest of the country, as they have him at #83. ESPN ranks Norman #91 overall, while On3 has him at #96 internally and #99 in their Consensus rankings. Rivals is the lone hold out on us being able to call Norman a consensus top 100 prospect, as they have him at #109 in the country. That’s still a four-star rating, just like everyone else, so we’re talking minor degrees of difference here.
Here are the other high major programs that offered Norman according to lists generated by 247 Sports, Rivals, and On3:
That’s it. Seems weird for a top 100 type of guy, particularly one from a notable American city and playing for a team in a highly respected prep school league. This is where I turn it over to 247 Sports’ Adam Finkelstein:
Tre Norman was undervalued in the recruiting process.
It wasn’t that he didn’t have high-major offers or multiple suitors from that level, but that the totality of his recruitment didn’t live up to what I expect his college impact to be.
The one exception to that was Marquette.
Assistant coach Cody Hatt tapped into his New England roots and identified the Worcester Academy and BABC product early in the process, and then head coach Shaka Smart pursued him harder than anyone over the course of the last six months.
Marquette wasn’t first in the door with Norman, as the offer came through this past March. He did take an official visit in late April, so this all sounds like Marquette by way of Hatt and Smart got in the door and made such a big impression that the word got out that the recruitment was effectively over.
“What made me choose Marquette was just how loyal they were from the beginning,” Norman said to On3. “They kept in contact with me. They never wavered and there weren’t any times when they stopped talking to me for a while. It was always consistent. The coaching staff connected with my family and stayed in contact with everybody, even my friends. They would talk to them on the phone. Marquette really separated themselves from other schools in the recruiting process.”
Re-read those sentences about connecting with Norman’s family and his friends. Shaka Smart is not kidding when he says that he dives deep into figuring out exactly what kind of a person he’s targeting as a recruit, not just a basketball player.
And what about Norman as a basketball player is so enticing to Smart that he made the push here? Back to Finkelstein:
Smart’s recruiting pitch has been a system with multiple playmakers and ball-handlers who are able to be interchangeable in terms of playing on and off the ball. Norman not only fits that vision, but he provides a player who should be ready to make an impact from day one.
Equally relevant is that he’s a fit from a culture standpoint, which has been a particular point of emphasis for Smart since he arrived at Marquette.
Norman plays and carries himself with supreme confidence and has natural leadership abilities. He’s a competitive player who has always had a “chip on his shoulder,” a characteristic that is bound to grow even more now given how his recruitment went.
He didn’t say it specifically there, but there’s an awful lot of “plays with a lot of violence” that you can piece together, and we know that’s a key idea for Smart’s iteration of the Golden Eagles.
Onwards to the scholarship chart, and we have to have a talk about it.....
As you can see from the top of the 2023-24 column, adding Tre Norman to that roster puts Marquette one over the scholarship limit of 13. In order to add Norman and Zaide Lowery and Al Amadou, something somewhere else on the roster is going to have to change from the current projection.
There are immediately obvious possibilities, of course. Olivier-Maxence Prosper or Oso Ighodaro explode as a pro prospect and leave a year early. Ighodaro takes advantage of all of those AP credits he enrolled with, graduates early, and departs. And there are less fun options, like Emarion Ellis’ stress fracture surgery recovery ends up leaving him unable to play for Marquette. There’s also the always looming prospect of someone transferring, as this is the immediately eligible transfer era.
But the important thing to remember here is that this is a plan by Smart. He took on Lowery’s commitment back in April knowing he was still going to pursue Norman. Same for Amadou, both from the “still pursuing” and “taking the commitment” angles, as that recruitment wrapped up just a couple of weeks ago. This was done on purpose and with intent by the coaching staff, which leads me to believe that they already know how this is going to resolve itself and that they’ve known for a while. All that remains, then, is finding out whether or not they’re going to let us in on the secret between now and April.