Henry Ellenson’s short stay in Milwaukee didn’t result in a postseason berth, but he had the best freshman season in Marquette history. However, just because Ellenson is gone to the NBA, it doesn’t mean that the cupboard is bare.
Marquette brings back six players who averaged more than 23 minutes per game. Haanif Cheatham and Traci Carter return after promising freshman campaigns, while Luke Fischer, Duane Wilson and Jajuan Johnson give the Golden Eagles a solid core of upperclassmen.
Pressure is beginning to mount on third-year coach Steve Wojciechowski, as Marquette has compiled a 12–24 record in the Big East during his first two seasons at the school.
All Big East predictions and a full preview of each team in the conference can be found in the Athlon Sports 2016-17 Preview Magazine, available in our online store and on newsstands everywhere.
At a Glance
HEAD COACH: Steve Wojciechowski
2015-16 RECORD (BIG EAST): 20-13 (8–10)
2015-16 POSTSEASON: None
2016-17 PREDICTION: Fifth in Big East
F Henry Ellenson (17.0 ppg, 9.7 rpg)
Playing alongside Ellenson, Fischer didn’t take a leap forward during his junior season. The 6'11" center increased his scoring average by 1.1 points per game (to 12.1) and rebounding average by 1.4 (to 6.2). All eyes will be on Fischer this season, as he’s the lone Marquette frontcourt player with experience.
Matt Heldt, who played just 5.1 minutes per game as a freshman, is the only other player over 6'6" on the roster. Heldt flashed his potential at times but was not ready physically to contribute much last season. Marquette will be counting on him to develop into a contributor.
It was a tale of two seasons for wing Sandy Cohen III. He averaged 8.9 points and shot 42 percent from beyond the arc during non-conference play but fell off the map in Big East play, averaging 4.2 points and hitting 25.0 percent of his 3-point attempts. The early-season version of Cohen would be a valuable bench weapon.
At 6'5", Sacar Anim, who played sparingly as freshman, could contribute off the bench as an undersized power forward.
The Golden Eagles certainly don’t lack for depth in the backcourt, as all four members of last year’s rotation return. Marquette has also added USC graduate transfer Katin Reinhardt, UNC Asheville transfer Andrew Rowsey and talented freshmen Markus Howard and Sam Hauser to the mix.
Cheatham’s freshman season was overlooked due to the presence of Ellenson, but the 6'5" combo guard started all 33 games, averaging 11.8 points and shooting 38.7 percent on 3-point attempts.
Carter teamed with Cheatham for an all-freshman starting backcourt in 19 games. While his turnovers were high (2.3 per game) and his shooting percentage low (34.4 percent), the young point guard racked up 153 assists and improved as the season progressed.
Wilson put up nearly identical numbers as a sophomore as he did as a freshman. The junior will likely be tasked with providing a scoring punch off the bench.
While Wilson didn’t take the expected next step in his progression, Johnson did. He averaged 10.2 points per game and shot 51.0 percent. After going 16-for-73 on 3-pointers as a sophomore, Johnson made 38.5 of his 3-point attempts last season.
Although he stands at 6'6", Reinhardt is not an inside player. He won’t provide Marquette with much help in the rebounding department, but he’s a career 36.9 percent 3-point shooter at UNLV and USC.
Marquette’s other transfer is more of an unknown than Reinhardt, as Rowsey will be making the jump from the Big South to the Big East. The 5'10" guard sat out last season after averaging 19.7 points and shooting 39.3 percent from beyond the arc in two seasons at Asheville.
Howard and Hauser, both top-100 recruits, are expected to contribute right away.
Markus Howard and Sam Hauser should find roles right away. Hauser, who was the star of one of the best prep teams in Wisconsin history, is a 6'6" shooter. Howard can also fill it up, as he is considered as one of the top shooters among 2016 prospects. Katin Reinhardt, a graduate transfer who has spent time at UNLV and USC, is also a weapon from the perimeter.
After relying on Ellenson to carry a heavy load last season, Marquette will be a much more balanced team in 2016-17.
The makeup of the roster indicates that the Golden Eagles will rely heavily on hitting 3-pointers, which is always a risky proposition.
Marquette has the talent to snap its postseason drought. There are enough scorers on the roster to replace the points per game lost with Ellenson’s departure, but whether or not the Golden Eagles return to the NCAA Tournament may come down to whether they can hold their own on the glass and defend the interior.
Wojciechowski has proven he can recruit high-level talent to Milwaukee. Now it’s time to experience success on the court.