Marquette men’s basketball fans had the same mantra throughout the 2014-15 season: “Just wait until next season.”
It started when Wally Ellenson transferred to Marquette for both track and men’s basketball. It gave Marquette a much stronger bid to land the No. 4 high school recruit, Henry Ellenson, Wally’s younger brother, which coach Steve Wojciechowksi did. That followed Marquette landing Matt Heldt and Haanif Cheatham, consensus top-100 recruits. Marquette did lose Nick Noskowiak, who originally signed under former head coach Buzz Williams, but that was more due to his own personal circumstances.
Wojciechowski completed his consensus top-1o recruiting class Wednesday when Sacar Anim from DeLaSalle High School in Minnesota and Traci Carter from Life Center Academy in New Jersey signed their respective National Letter of Intents to play for Marquette next season.
The incoming freshman class is one of the best Marquette has seen in years. Fans, after a disappointing 13-19 record in Wojciechowski’s first season, are extremely excited to be back in the conversation of being a March Madness team.
But even with all the excitement, Marquette basketball fans need to be careful of the expectations they place on these incoming freshmen, Henry Ellenson included.
Henry Ellenson is regarded as the best recruit to come to Marquette since Dwyane Wade, causing some fans to wonder if he will be a one-and-done. Ellenson should be good, no questions about it. But expecting him to play like a one-and-done is ridiculous. Most one-and-dones are surrounded by players that also could make it in the NBA, which Marquette will not have next season. No, it’s not ridiculous to expect Ellenson to average more than 10 points next season and be close to a double-double average. But asking him to play like someone who could go high in the first round before he’s even stepped on the Marquette court is too much for a freshman.
The same goes for the rest of the class. While a top-10 recruiting class is absolutely nothing to scoff at, these players will not turn Marquette into a national powerhouse overnight. Wojciechowski will have his work cut out for him, fitting all five players into a system that works, while also not burning the freshmen out too early. Veterans Duane Wilson and Luke Fischer will need to continue to get better and be the go-to players in the offense. Sandy Cohen III needs to continue to bulk up and work on his shooting for his sophomore season. Jajuan Johnson needs to work on his defense and get more consistent in his outside shooting.
A major question is experience for the Golden Eagle squad, which currently doesn’t have a senior on the roster. Asking every player to play a year older than they are is not how basketball teams win games. Sure, other players are more mature in their game than others, but the incoming freshmen are going to make rookie mistakes. Their game is going to be rough and raw when the season starts. The trick will be Wojciechowski refining the skills they already have and continuing to teach them how to play collegiate basketball.
Wojciechowski has done a phenomenal job filling Marquette’s men’s basketball scholarships with quality players who know how to win. Bringing in a top-10 recruiting class is fantastic for the future of the program. But fans cannot place too high of expectations on the team and then get mad if they aren’t met.
Building a championship team is a long process. Fans need to just enjoy the ride and watch the freshmen grow into a national powerhouse rather than expect it on day one.