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2023-24 Marquette Men’s Basketball Player Preview: #5 Tre Norman

The big question isn’t how talented is the top 100 prospect, the question is how much space is in the Golden Eagles rotation for him.

Marquette’s Tre Norman
How much of Tre Norman are we going to see this season?
Marquette University

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 wrap up the freshman part of our program with this installment, which takes a look at the most highly touted prospect in the recruiting class......

Tre Norman

Freshman - #5 - Guard - 6’4” - 205 lbs. - Boston, Massachusetts

Let’s start with that touting, shall we? Tre Norman arrives at Marquette after finishing up his prep career as the #88 prospect in the country according to the 247 Sports Composite rankings. That makes him a four-star prospect and the #12 combo guard prospect in the country. Internally, 247 only has Norman at #95, which means that there are services that have Norman ranked higher. It’s not On3, which says he’s #127 internally and #99 in their Industry Ranking, which is their version of the Composite. ESPN says he’s a four-star prospect, but they only rank the top 100 and he’s not there. Rivals has Norman at #103 in the country..... so yeah, I don’t know how the 247 Composite has him at #88. BUT STILL. Hovering right inside the top 100 in the Composite still has Norman beating out Zaide Lowery (#134) and Al Amadou (#164), so the “most highly touted” label sticks here.

Norman made his commitment to Marquette last September, and that wasn’t really a case of “waiting til after my senior year starts” or “wait until closer to the signing date in November.” No, Norman chose to make his announcement on September 6th, which would have been Terrence Clarke’s birthday. Clarke hailed from Boston, as Norman does, and the former Kentucky Wildcat was killed in a traffic collision in between declaring for the NBA Draft after his freshman year and the draft itself. Norman chose to announce his destination on Clarke’s birthday to honor the local icon, and I presume that Norman is intentionally wearing #5 to honor Clarke as well.

Here’s a scouting report on Norman from back when he committed, courtesy of 247 Sports:

Norman is a big guard with innate scoring and playmaking ability. He has good positional size and strength that he utilizes with his physicality and understanding of how to use his body. He creates offense by changing speeds, getting downhill, and navigating the lane instinctively. While he needs to keep progressing as a spot-up shooter, he’s a true three-level scoring threat and definite weapon playing out of ball-screens.

There’s untapped defensive versatility given his physicality and ability to body up with bigger players. He is also an excellent rebounding guard who loves to take the ball off the glass and start the break himself.

In addition to his shooting, the other area of untapped potential is in his physique and ability to keep taking his body, and consequently his explosiveness, to new levels.

And here’s what Shaka Smart said about him when Norman signed with the Golden Eagles last November:

“Tre is a flat-out winner with a college-ready body,” Smart said. ”His competitive character is especially advanced for his age and he thrives in the biggest moments. He prides himself in toughness, basketball IQ, making people better, and of course, winning.

“Tre’s size, versatile skill set, and win anyway mentality align with who we work to be,” Smart added. He has the opportunity to be a great leader and winner at Marquette.”

Reasonable Expectations

Tre Norman finds himself joining a Marquette roster jam packed with returning rotation guys at the position he plays. Think he’s more of a point guard than anything else? Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek is going to get to play all the minutes at the point that he wants. Kam Jones and Stevie Mitchell have clearly established roles on the team, and if Jones is going to shoot 36% behind the arc and 60% inside of it for a second straight year, it’s going to be awfully hard to push him off the floor.

Even behind those guys, there’s Chase Ross and Sean Jones returning from their sophomore campaigns. Ross seems primed for a breakout season while Jones was having a perfectly acceptable freshman year in 2022-23 before suffering a wrist injury that clearly put a lid on his ceiling for the final six weeks of the season. It’s going to be hard enough for those guys to get more playing time this year much less trying to figure out how to get Norman on the floor as well.

So, when the preseason projection has Norman at 11.6 minutes, 3.6 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game, you have to just say “yeah, well, that makes sense until I see differently.” Norman is going to have to take minutes from someone, or at the very least, the coaching staff is going to have to take minutes from last year’s rotation for some reason for us to see playing time for Norman at all.

Why You Should Get Excited

I remain of the opinion that Tre Norman is wildly underrated.

The word on his recruiting always seemed to be “Shaka Smart and his staff made landfall before anyone else even realized how good Norman might be, and because of the way Tre goes through life, his relationship with Shaka meant his recruitment was over right there. As such, no one even bothered to try to recruit Norman.”

Here’s how 247 Sports’ Adam Finkelstein explained it when Norman committed:

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.

Heck, Norman kind of admitted this was the case in a Get To Know You video that Marquette put out over the summer. He said when he announced a “Top Three Schools” list, it was really just a Top One list and he just added two others next to Marquette just because that’s What You’re Supposed To Do.

So what if “yeah, it’s done, he’s going to Marquette” caused the scouting/recruiting services to stop paying close attention to Tre Norman? Not that they’re undervaluing him because he’s going to Marquette instead of Kansas or North Carolina, but because they just stopped scouting him because his recruitment was over? What if they didn’t give him a full evaluation because they didn’t need to know what kind of player he was evolving into because it was already set that he was signing with Shaka?

What if he’s more of a top 50 prospect than anyone realizes?

What if that possibility means he unlocks the top end potential of the rest of Marquette’s backcourt? What if Tyler Kolek is a more productive point guard because Norman can be a 1A next to him, or because Norman can give MU minutes at PG and let Kolek do some scoring when the matchups are right? What if Norman’s athleticism means Stevie Mitchell can take a few possessions off from defending whoever’s the top backcourt threat every night?

Potential Pitfalls

Norman might be a top 100 prospect, and you might generally expect top 100 prospects to see regular playing time in their freshman year of college.

But this isn’t a normal situation. This is a situation where Marquette returns almost all of their rotation from a team that won a Big East regular season title. They know what they do works. If you’re going to get playing time as The New Guy, then you’re going to have to be only putting things on the table and not taking anything off of it. If Norman is a step slow on defensive rotations, then Marquette’s better off sending those minutes to Stevie Mitchell. If he’s not hitting shots, those shots are better off going to Kam Jones. If Norman isn’t connecting with teammates for open shots, then the Golden Eagles should be relying on Tyler Kolek to throw those passes.

And so on and so on and so on.

Shaka Smart’s recruiting philosophy since coming to Marquette has clearly been one of a guy playing a long term game. The future may be bright for Tre Norman.... it’s just that Being A Freshman On This Team might limit us from seeing exactly how bright it can be this year.