We’ve got some Marquette women’s basketball roster movement to discuss as things have started to shift for Megan Duffy and the Golden Eagles since the season ended with a first round NCAA tournament loss to South Florida.
Back on March 19, two days after the season came to an end against South Florida, junior Julianna Okosun announced that her college basketball career is over on Instagram.
In her own words, for posterity’s sake:
My college basketball career is officially over.
I though I was going to be proud of myself when I imagined how my college career would end. But I thought it would end in a very different way than it did.
The last three months I have been on the sideline standing up for myself and taking care of my mental health. My anxiety grew under the demands of basketball, and it got to a point where I had to make the decision not to continue the season.
For outsiders, is almost impossible to fully understand what it takes to be an elite athlete. The strain, time, skill, grit and determination that is required demands everything you have in you.
That is why I am so extremely proud of my team and what they have accomplished this season. Setting records and making history is not something you just do. It is something we worked for every single day.
Though everything ended very different than I imagined, I am also extremely proud of my self. For the hours and hours I poured my heart into basketball for three years trough the tough times. And for taking my experiences seriously and putting my well-being first.
As I finish up school I just want to thank Marquette for my time here. I learned more than I thought was possible
I am excited for what is coming next…
And so that gives us an explanation as to why Okosun had not played at all for Marquette since New Year’s Eve, had disappeared from the bench for a stretch during the season, and ended the year without dressing to play. I think it would have been nice if there had been a discussion about mental health, both in general and for student athletes, as the season went along as a result of Okosun’s battle with anxiety, but I respect the decision to not want to talk about it out loud and in public as well. Everyone’s path is different, which is why I was hesitant to post about this when she put this up on Instagram. I didn’t want to hang a sign on her difficulty for the purposes of a blog post and nothing else, but now that we have another move to discuss, there’s no reason to not keep everything and everyone up to date.
This announcement from Okosun came four days after a video she posted where she mentioned that she will be finishing her degree in May. This does of course make me wonder if there was always a plan for her to be done at Marquette after this season. On top of being done with her degree in three years, Okosun was on the giant schedule poster outside the McGuire Center alongside Chloe Marotta and Jordan King. Marotta and King were the obvious choices for that poster from a marketing perspective, both as the on the court leaders of the team as well as with both women possibly in their final seasons at Marquette. Neither of those things were immediately obvious for Okosun as she entered her third season with the Golden Eagles with just 31 games played across two seasons. All of this would make sense if the program was expecting this to be her final year at Marquette because of her degree status.
Onwards then to Tuesday night’s news, as Makiyah Williams posted an announcement on Instagram that she is entering the transfer portal.
Here’s the text from the picture:
First I would like to thank God, who has blessed me with an incredible two years. Two years of growth, encouragement, and teachable moments. I appreciate being able to work and grow with a dominant group of girls as my teammates, and the sport of the Marquette fans. I thank God, my family and friends who have seen me through these two years. I am excited to say I have entered the transfer portal, I am looking forward to what my next years of college basketball will bring for me.
Williams just finished up her sophomore campaign with the Golden Eagles. She appeared in 23 games, averaging 2.6 points and 1.9 rebounds in 10 minutes per game. However, those numbers, particularly the minutes, are notably boosted by Liza Karlen’s absence from the team this year due to her dental surgery. Williams played at least 10 minutes per game in the month of January as Karlen missed every game.... and then it was right back to single digit minutes in eight of MU’s 11 games the rest of the way. This came after a freshman season of 15 appearances and a total of 74 minutes played. That’s the way it goes with freshmen sometimes, but it seems clear that not much changed between the coaching staff’s plans for her from Year 1 to Year 2. That’s too bad, as I thought her energy and athleticism added something that the team needed while she was on the floor.
Williams is the second Marquette player to enter the transfer portal this school year. Aizhanique Mayo departed the team shortly before the season started after clearly being a part of the team’s plans for the year as recent as two days before the first game of the year.
And that sends us along to our brand new scholarship chart, which is a bit of a mess right now.
Williams was the only freshman when she joined the team in 2021-22, and that leaves Megan Duffy and her team without any juniors for the 2023-24 season, at least for now. We learned from the NCAA tournament game broadcast that Jordan King has already told the coaching staff that she is returning for her COVID bonus season of eligibility, so we’ve marked her over to a red square on the board. Nia Clark and Kennedi Myles were not honored on Senior Day, so I presume that means that they’re returning next year as well.... but no one has said anything specifically about that. Both women have already transferred once — twice for Clark — so it would be unexpected to see them attempt to navigate the waters for a grad transfer if that’s even possible for them relative to their academic status. There’s definitely scholarship space for them on the team, so that’s not a question that needs to be addressed.
In fact, with Williams and Okosun departing, that leaves Marquette with at least four available scholarship spots for next season, possibly five depending on how the accounting on Nirel Lougbo and her medical retirement works, and as many as seven if Clark and Myles do not return. At this point, I would not be surprised to see Duffy bring in a transfer or a late signing, much like the case of Kenzie Hare last spring. It’s a long time between now and mid-April when that theoretical new freshman signing can happen, so we’ll have to wait and see what transpires between now and then.