The 2023-24 college basketball season is right around the corner, so let’s dive into the Marquette men’s basketball roster and take a look at what to expect from each player this season. We’ll be going through the roster one by one: First MU’s three freshmen in last name alphabetical order — we’re skipping Caedin Hamilton because he will be redshirting this season — and then moving on to the returning active players from last season, going in order of average minutes per game last season from lowest to highest.
We’re going to organize our thoughts about the upcoming season as it relates to each player into categories, as we always do:
- Reasonable Expectations
- Why You Should Get Excited
- Potential Pitfalls
With that out of the way, we’re starting off the series today with the first of the three freshmen on the active roster this season......
Freshman - #21 - Forward - 6’9” - 210 lbs. - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Shaka Smart and his staff first offered a scholarship to Al Amadou back in August of 2021, just a couple of months after Smart was hired in Milwaukee. Back in the day, I had to make use of City of Basketball Love in order to figure out exactly what kind of player Amadou was. Physically speaking, he hasn’t changed all that much, as CoBL said he was 6’9” and 190 pounds. Profile wise, Amadou has changed an awful lot since then.
He’s gone from barely having a presence in the recruiting world to sitting at #164 in the 247 Sports Composite rankings for the Class of 2023. That makes him their #35 power forward prospect and the #3 prospect coming out of the state of Pennsylvania. You can make an argument that he’s #2 if you want, as Christian Bliss is at #161 in the country, but it’s clear that Kentucky freshman Justin Edwards (#3 in the country) is the top guy coming out of PA this year.
On3 has Amadou at #150 in the country, #31 amongst power forwards, and #2 in Pennsylvania. Much like 247, that’s a three-star rating for him. ESPN lists him as a center and thus ranks him #18 in the class at the position, and while he’s not ranked, they do consider him a four-star prospect. The lack of ranking applies to Rivals as well, as does the four-star certification.
Here’s an April 2021 scouting report from City of Basketball Love:
A lanky wing forward, Amadou is a developing frontcourt prospect with an intriguing toolset. His best asset is his ability to defend the rim and finish around the bucket, with good second and third-effort on the glass. He’s also a capable 3-point shooter and can put the ball on the floor, but those tools are all still a work in project. High-ceiling for sure but needs to add muscle to his frame and refine offensively.
Here’s what 247 Sports said about him in July 2022:
Amadou is a long-term stock who combines good size, mobility, and developing skill. He needs to get much stronger and more consistent with both his motor and overall productivity, but he has a chance to be an inside-out scoring threat and versatile frontcourt defender in time.
Here’s Shaka Smart’s press release quote on Amadou from when he signed with the Golden Eagles last November:
“Al is just learning how special he can become as a person and basketball player,” Smart said. ”Not only does he value relationships, growth, and victory, he also possesses as much, or more, potential as anyone we’ve signed.
“He’s exactly the type of young man we pride ourselves in developing into a special contributor to our program,” Smart added. ”Al’s athleticism and versatility on both ends of the floor give him an extremely exciting future as someone capable of impacting winning in a wide variety of ways.”
Is it a reasonable expectation for Amadou if it’s something that I’m going to expect all of us to be doing by the time the season comes along? We’re all calling him “Big Al,” right? That’s officially a thing, right?
As for actual on the court production, well, we’ll have to wait and see. The facts of the matter are that, with the exception of Caedin Hamilton, who just signed in August and is redshirting this season, Al Amadou is Marquette’s least heralded recruit in the Class of 2023. Combine that lack of high rankings from the recruiting services with the fact that at 6’9” and 200 pounds, Amadou is Tall Man, not Big Man, it leads to questions about what he can give to the Golden Eagles on the floor right now. Let me put it this way: He’s two inches and 25 pounds smaller than Oso Ighodaro, and two inches and 35 pounds smaller than Ben Gold. How much playing time can Amadou snipe from those two guys, purely at the 5 this season? Is it even possible? Will Gold end up sharing time with David Joplin at the 4, and that leaves some space in the lineup for Amadou.... but if he can’t handle banging around with guys like UConn’s Donovan Clingan, how much PT will he actually get?
To put it all another way: BartTorvik.com’s projection for the season has Amadou outside the top 10 contributors. He’s the only one of the three active roster freshmen to land out there. Last year, Marquette did what they did with a nine man rotation. Is Shaka Smart going to want to try to find playing time for 11 guys this year?
The reasonable way to approach Amadou’s first season in Milwaukee is thus: If he’s contributing something to the active roster on the floor on a regular basis, it’s a win for him and for Marquette.
Why You Should Get Excited
Amadou broke Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s career record for blocked shots, racking up 235 of them.
Amadou did that in two seasons after transferring in before his junior year.
Now, it’s hard to say exactly how impressive that is. We’re talking about an ultra-athletic 6’9” young man, and sometimes it’s almost a little too easy for a guy destined to play in the Big East to go swat shots of guys who aren’t even going to make it to Division 1.
On the other hand, he did that in two seasons. Amadou averaged five blocks per game as a senior, and since they went 17-8, that means he had 125 blocks last year. He also averaged 10 points and eight rebounds, but hey, that’s just a ridiculous number of blocks. If they played 25 games in his junior year, he averaged 4.4 per game. It’s wild stuff.
If Amadou’s raw athleticism is too much for the bench to contain him, it’s hard to say exactly what he’s capable of accomplishing.
We hit on it in the Expectations part, because that’s part of the expectations for him this season. The roster has roles from last season that can be largely speaking left intact for this season, and good things can happen. Smart and his staff have to figure out how to replace Olivier-Maxence Prosper, but I don’t think anyone’s expecting Amadou to be carrying a heavy load of that work at any point this year.
There’s a version of the 2023-24 season that 1) goes very well for Marquette as a team but 2) goes not so great in terms of individual production and playing time for Al Amadou. That’s fine, the plans for Amadou are bigger than just this season.