Well need might be a little strong, but he would drastically impact the program in the near future. Coach Wojciechowski could be on the hot seat if Marquette fails to make the NCAA tournament this year, which I don’t anticipate being the case, but the point stands. A guy like Mannion would drastically increase the odds of making the tournament and change the perception of Marquette basketball. Signing a McDonald’s All-American can do wonders for a program, giving you a guy the national media gushes over and further on a guy with a good chance to make the NBA. Many coaches leverage their professional players when they recruit, noting that they’ve produced NBA players is a big recruiting tool.
You might be thinking, wait a minute what about Henry Ellenson? Ellenson counts, and I’m sure Wojo notes that, but Ellenson was a Wisconsin native and his NBA career has been how you say lackluster. Getting a premier recruit to come from Arizona to Milwaukee says a lot about the state of the program. Getting Henry to come in was huge, but his brother was on the roster and he grew up here, simply put it is not the same as selling your vision to recruits that aren’t locals.
So who is Nico Mannion?
If his ranking does not speak for himself I will. Mannion is a player whose game is tailor made for basketball in 2018. He has the ability to shoot off the dribble or the catch with great effectiveness. His shot diversity brings a ton of value to the court, he has the ability to get his shot off at any given moment. A lot of his game is getting guys off balance with the dribble, pulling up and shooting over them. Not all shooter’s are created equal, guys like Mannion present significantly more value than their counterparts who can’t shoot off movement or off the dribble. Mannion can create his own shot or play within the flow of any offense, which is an enormous value within itself.
He is also a dynamic athlete showcasing not only the ability to blow by guys, but finish over them in the paint. Some of his dunks are just filthy posters, which is always impressive for a 6’3” guard. This bodes well for his talent to translate to the next level, even against impressive competition in AAU Mannion still impressed with his athleticism. Simply put his game as currently constructed should translate fairly easily to the Big East, and perhaps even the NBA. Personally I believe Mannion can be a one and done lottery pick, producing lottery picks never hurts a school’s ability to recruit.
His freshman year would align with Sam Hauser and Markus Howard’s senior campaigns, giving Marquette the potential for a massive year alongside the rest of the youth currently on the roster. Marquette could really use a big year, Coach Wojciechowski has never placed higher than 4th in the Big East, and are 0-1 in the NCAA tournament across his four seasons. One big year with Mannion could change a lot about the way Marquette is viewed nationally.
In the end Arizona is the heavy favorite, it’s in his home state and they have a better track record recently both in terms of winning and producing talent. That said he named a top two for a reason, if it was already determined he was going to Arizona, he likely wouldn’t have trimmed to two. Marquette has the benefit of playing in an NBA city and stadium, big perks for guys who love basketball. The Fiserv Forum represents an exciting aspect of being a Golden Eagle, you get to play in a brand new, state of the art arena.
Look for Mannion to make a decision in late October after he takes his official visits to Marquette and Arizona.