Marquette’s frontcourt is about as hyped up as it has been in the past 5 years. With additions of transfer Ed Morrow from Nebraska and top 60 recruit Joey Hauser the frontcourt has a few elements that have been unseen for a few years for the Golden Eagles. The unit is headed by returning starter Matt Heldt who averaged 4 points and 5 rebounds in his junior campaign. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the big men:
Matt Heldt Senior (6’10”) : Heldt just about doubled his stats from his sophomore year, where he averaged just over two points per game and just over three rebounds. Heldt was consistent in both a good and bad way. You weren’t going to get any double doubles, but he battled and gave the Golden Eagles over 25 minutes at the center position in 16 games. He grabbed over ten rebounds in two of the last ten games and rarely turned the ball over. He is by no means an offensive juggernaut, but he was not a true liability. When asked to make a shot he hit it, leading the Golden Eagles in field goal percentage at 64.7%. Heldt will have competition for playing time this year with a little deeper frontcourt. He also will get a little more rest against some of the better big men such as Jessie Govan and Ethan Happ. Defensively he netted a 3.3 Defensive Box Plus Minus which ranked second to only Greg Elliott. He also ranked fourth in Win shares for the Golden Eagles at two. I expect Heldt to have another consistent year. I don’t expect a huge jump in Heldt’s stats or production, but the Golden Eagles will need him to be a senior leader.
Theo John Sophomore (6’9”) : At times in his freshman year, Golden Eagles fans may have thought John was more apt to play football. John flew around and even though he was inconsistent he made some incredible plays. Probably a personal favorite was obliterating Nathan Reuvers for a blocked shot to start a fast break against Wisconsin, but John had no shortage of power dunks and blocks. The source of many of John’s struggles were on the defensive end. Trust me I’ve seen all sorts of defense on pick and rolls, but rarely have I seen someone hedge screens as far out as John. At times he was near half court and sometimes it even worked! John has something you can’t teach, uber athleticism. It’s hard for me to quantify his stats because he really was so raw last year. He has a chance to make the jump and become one of the better bigs in the Big East in the next few years and it is in his hands. John will need to learn to play better help defense and polish his game around the rim if he wants to see consistent big minutes. He brought out the lefty jump hook a few times last year, and I expect to see him build on that and bring a more polished post game for his sophomore year.
Joey Hauser Freshman (6’9”) : Hauser enters as a freshman who early enrolled last spring with the departures of a few other Golden Eagles. Joey (Brother of Sam Hauser) is a true Power Forward who can also occasionally play the 3 and was a offensive animal in high school. He was ranked in the top 40 players nationally up until an ankle injury forced him to get surgery and miss most of his senior season. In his junior season he put up 33 points and 22 rebounds in the state championship on the road to his third straight ring. As someone who watched him play numerous times in High School all I can say is he is a force and did not force shots. He shot over 50 percent in his first 3 years. However, the Big East is not the Wisconsin Valley Conference. He will need to adjust to the speed of the game particularly on the defensive end. In addition, he will have to make more jump shots and will not be gifted with as many easy dunks and layups which he is completely capable of. Still, I expect Joey to average upwards on 18 minutes a game, and possibly start by the time Big East play starts.
Brendan Bailey Freshman (6’8”): For me Bailey is a real wild card because of his situation. For those who don’t know Bailey is a 21 year old freshman fresh off of his mormon mission. His dad was a legend on the Jim Valvano “Survive and Advance” team that won the championship in 1983. Unfortunately, Bailey was only practicing one day a week on his mission. This has probably set him back, but previously he was a top 100 recruit with a smooth three point stroke. Many have projected him to not play much this year, but I think that he could be an asset off the bench as a eighth or ninth man. He will struggle on the glass at the start of his career due to a more lanky six foot eight frame, but the kid can flat out shoot it. Along with a smooth shooting stroke, Bailey also has some bounce and can throw it down. I project Bailey to get a shot in the non-conference slate and prove that he deserves some sort of meaningful playing time.
Ed Morrow Junior (6’7”): Morrow is a bruiser and weighs in at a hefty 235 pounds at just six foot 7. Morrow is a transfer from Nebraska who sat out last year due to NCAA eligibility rules and is from famous Simeon High School, home of Derrick Rose and Jabari Parker. He averaged just under ten points and just under eight rebounds in his sophomore year while shooting 51 percent. Morrow also led the Cornhuskers in blocks with just over one a game. Even with a nice statistical background I expect Morrow to struggle to adapt to the Golden Eagles play style early in the year. It will be tough for him to adjust to playing with a high tempo three point shooting team coming from a squad who ranked 307th in the nation in three pointers attempted in his sophomore year. I do expect Morrow to adjust by the time Marquette takes the court in Big East Play due to his tendency to only take quality shots. Morrow should be on the floor a lot to address Marquette’s continual rebounding problem where Marquette ranked 220th last season in boards. I think he will be a starter for most of the season.
Ike Eke Freshman (6’9”): The redshirt freshman from Detroit is possibly the most mysterious player on the team. There is some home video of him playing on the AAU Circuit for The Family, but he doesn’t have very many clips. One thing that is known about him is that he has incredible bounce. Eke finishes multiple putback dunks in his highlights against very strong EYBL competition. Coach Wojo has came out multiple times recently and cited how much Eke has developed in his short time on campus, but doesn’t hint at him playing much this season. For now I expect Eke to be a project and play only garbage minutes. With this being said I expect Eke to play meaningful minutes later on in his career, I just think he may be too raw right now.
Tommy Gardiner Freshman (6’7”): Another walk-on concludes our forwards piece. He is one of four on the Golden Eagles, which may seem like a outrageous number, but the rotation should already be tight. Gardiner is from Illinois and competed on the AAU circuit for B&B elite. He was a scholar athlete in high school and weighs in at 210 pounds. For Wojo walk-ons remain to be seen playing meaningful minutes and I do not see that changing much with one of the better rotations Marquette has had in recent years.
Bailey was in the starting rotation in the exhibition game, but I do not expect him to play starters minutes right away. He is smooth. but looked a little flustered in the exhibition win against Carroll. Morrow should be a huge glue guy for the Golden Eagles this year and I expect him to be the difference making big Marquette has lacked in the last few years. For Marquette to be successful they will need a big year from whichever big is anchoring the lineup.