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 move along to the second of the three freshmen on the roster this season.....
Freshman - #10 - Guard - 6’5” - 200 lbs. - Springfield, Missouri
Zaide Lowery was Marquette’s first commitment for the Class of 2023. He made his pledge in mid-April of 2022, about 10 months after Shaka Smart offered him a scholarship the previous summer. That came after Lowery didn’t even start the 2020-21 high school season on the varsity at Kickapoo High School in Missouri. Then again, Kickapoo would go on to win the Class 6 Missouri state title at the end of the year, so I’m guessing those coaches knew what they were doing.
Also: This is what High School Sophomore Zaide Lowery looked like in the Final Four of the state tournament:
Not long after Lowery committed to Marquette, he also made the move to La Lumiere, the notable basketball power prep school in Indiana. He averaged 15.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, and three assists in his junior season at Kickapoo, and then followed that up with 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists at La Lu. You have to expect him to take a little bit of a dip, just because he was going to be playing a slightly more star studded team at the prep school, but that’s not much of a dip at all if we’re being honest. The most notable thing about that senior year at La Lumiere? 38% from behind the three-point line. If that translates to high major Division 1, that’ll help him get on the court, that’s for sure.
And that’s the question relative to his expectations for 2023-24, right? Can Zaide Lowery get on the court for Marquette this season?
At 6’5” and 200 pounds, Lowery fits into the picture as a backcourt player, whether you want to call that guard or wing, that’s up to you. The issue is that Marquette brings back their backcourt intact from a team that won a Big East regular season championship last season. If Zaide Lowery is going to play, he’s going to take minutes away from someone: Tyler Kolek, Kam Jones, Stevie Mitchell, Chase Ross, Sean Jones. Who is it going to be?
There’s an argument that a little extra depth/a little less playing time for all of those guys will be long term good for Marquette. One less minute per game for them means each man is just a little bit less worn down by the time we get to March and the high intensity of postseason basketball. That’s a good thing, but the other side of that issue is that we know the chemistry works with the way things went last year as well.
It’s a hard thing for the coaching staff to have to figure out, but that’s why Shaka Smart gets paid the big bucks.
If you want to put a number on a projection for Lowery? BartTorvik.com’s projections for the season has him at 7% of the minutes, which is a little bit less than three per game. 1.6 points, 1.0 rebounds, less than an assist per game. In short: If Lowery is a regular every night rotation guy, no matter what that role is, that’s a win for his first season in Milwaukee.
Why You Should Get Excited
I don’t have any hard evidence to base this on, just vibes.
Here’s what Shaka Smart said about him when he signed with Marquette last November:
“Zaide is just scratching the surface of who he will become as a player,” Smart said. It’s exciting to see how much he has grown in the year plus that we have known him. He is an extremely special mover, who brings great versatility to both ends of the floor.
“His length, quickness, and anticipation make him an ideal candidate for high deflections,” Smart added. ”Most importantly, Zaide consistently demonstrates a desire to be a part of something bigger than himself.”
247 Sports is the recruiting service that likes Lowery the most, ranking him as the #105 player in the Class of 2023, and marking him as a four-star prospect. On3’s version of a composite ranking says he’s a three-star, as does Rivals’ internal system. ESPN says he’s a four-star but since they don’t rank outside the top 100, it’s hard to get a feel for what they really think.
But I keep coming back to Lowery’s 247 Sports page. Not because they have an affinity for him, it’s just for the picture that they’re using for him. I don’t know what it is about it, but I keep seeing it when I’m wandering about looking at MU’s recruiting stuff, and I keep thinking that he looks like he’s supposed to be recruited to play safety in football.
Yeah, I know, not a lot of 6’5” free safeties in college football or even the NFL. But that’s the vibe I get.
And when I mix that vibe that I may have completely invented in my own head with that second paragraph from Shaka Smart — ideal for lots of deflections and wants to be part of something bigger — I see a hard nosed defensive specialist waiting to launch. Go back and look at Stevie Mitchell’s freshman year: 10 minutes a game, not much scoring, just enough shooting to be a threat while he’s on the floor..... and a steal rate that would have been top 100 in the country if he had the minutes to qualify. That’s why we all loved Stevie’s game heading into his sophomore year. What if Lowery’s size — he’s two inches taller than Mitchell right now — makes him even more dangerous than Mitchell was as a freshman? What if Smart starts being able to swap Mitchell and Lowery in and out of the game interchangeably to lock up the best backcourt guy on the other team?
This is entirely the opposite direction of the last section. If Lowery can’t defend the way that the coaching staff needs him to defend, he’s not going to play. Pure and simple. You know that inability to have a top 40 defense at Marquette the way he did for the previous 10 years before coming to Milwaukee grates at something deep inside Shaka Smart. You know he wants to see better defense than he did last year. The returning guys all know what’s expected of them this season, and they know how to defend the way the staff wants them to defend. They all know what Olivier-Maxence Prosper’s role was and how much they’re going to have to do to make up for his departure to the first round of the NBA Draft.
If Lowery’s not working out — and by the way, Marquette’s going to get precisely 80 minutes to figure out whether or not he can do his part before things go straight into the deep end against Illinois — then the backcourt rotation stays pretty much at what we saw last season. It doesn’t help Lowery’s case that he’s going to be, to a certain extent, fighting for minutes with fellow freshman Tre Norman back there as well.