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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Joplin ready for bigger role in junior season

Photo by Forster Goodrich
David Joplin was last year’s Big East Sixth Man of the Year. Now, he looks to become even more.

David Joplin has filled a variety of roles over the last two seasons. 

First, it was a bench-depth role. Then, finding a spot in the rotation off the bench led to the junior forward earning Big East Sixth Man of the Year honors last seasonBut what is in store for the Brookfield Central product this season is the biggest pair of shoes he will have to fit into.

Joplin will attempt to fill the role of former forward and now Dallas Maverick Olivier-Maxence Prosper, who started every game for Marquette last season

One way he began to prepare for this was in the weight room. 

Joplin was tested over the summer by head coach Shaka Smart and Marquette’s strength and conditioning coach Todd Smith, hoping to continue improving his physical stature. 

Along with junior walk-on Cameron Brown, the 6-foot-8 forward was put through a VersaClimber workout program, which Smart used during his time at Virginia Commonwealth with then-forward and now Indianapolis Colt tight end Mo Alie-Cox. The VersaClimber machine forces you to use your arms and legs simultaneously, resembling a standing crawl. 

“It’s one of those torture devices that can be as hard as you make it,” Smart said. 

Smart, having completed the program himself, said the VersaClimber not only impacts a player’s physicality but also their mentality.

I know what it feels like when you’re done,” Smart said. “You have a different motor and confidence in finding more to give inside you.”

Assistant coach Neil Berry said the VersaClimber has impacted Joplin’s play on both sides of the ball. 

“He’s already an elitelevel scorer,” Berry said. “His motor increasing has allowed him to make some great one-on-one defensive plays and has blocked some shots that didn’t happen in the past. Knowing he can do that is huge for his confidence.”  

Joplin’s workout program was heart rate based. Each day, he would use the machine for longer periods of time at a more intense speed until he went as fast as he could for two to three minutes straight. He said using the VersaClimber has made him versatile as an athlete and has impacted his stamina.

“I’m never really tired, my legs feel great,” Joplin said. “It takes you to that vulnerable place and it lets you know that you have more in you.”

On top of making strides physically, Joplin said he looks to take on more of a leadership role this season.

“I want to be able to impact the game in multiple ways, not just shooting the ball,” Joplin said. “I want to become better at guarding the ball and being more vocal.”

While Joplin’s role has grown, so have his numbers.

Last season, Joplin saw almost a 6.5-point increase in his points per game while only playing 46.8% of the team’s minutes coming off the bench, according to basketball statistics analysis website

Joplin is most involved in ball screens where the wings are effective passing options based on their own offensive tendencies. Joplin’s tendency is to shoot threes off the screen, which he did in Marquette’s 89-69 win at DePaul last season, when he scored a career-high eight 3-pointers. 

Last year, Prosper played as a slasher and went to the free-throw line more than anyone else on the roster last season. While Joplin had the best free throw percentage on the team last season at 81.2%, he only took 48 shots from the charity stripe, the fourth-fewest amount among all scholarship players. On the defensive end, Prosper was at the point of Marquette’s havoc defensive press, which Joplin will need to replicate this year, something he said the VersaClimber has helped him build confidence to be able to do. 

“There’s going to be times like that in games where need that confidence in yourself,” Joplin said. “Going as hard as I can in practice allows me to believe I can go that hard in the game on defense.”

Just like Joplin’s roles and stats have grown each year, so have his ambitions. He wants to be more than the Sixth Man of the Year, more than the first guy off the bench and more than the foul-trouble substitution he was last year.

Joplin has the expectations — he was recently named to the preseason watch list for the Julius Erving award, which honors the best small forward in the country each season — the offseason work and the confidence. So what do all of them culminate to him becoming in his junior season?

“He wants to be one of the best players in the conference,” Joplin’s former roommate Kam Jones said.

This story was written by Trevor Hilson. He can be reached at [email protected] or @hilsontrevor on Twitter/X.

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About the Contributors
Trevor Hilson
Trevor Hilson, Sports Audio Producer
Trevor Hilson is from Muskegon, Michigan and he is a journalism major. He is the Sports Audio Producer for the 2023-24 school year. In his free time, he plays a lot of golf and gives lessons to his friends. He is excited for the national championship banner going into the Fiserv rafters for men's hoops at the start of next season.
Forster Goodrich
Forster Goodrich, Staff Photographer
Forster Goodrich is a sophomore from Lyme, New Hampshire studying digital media. Forster works on the photography desk as a Staff Photographer. Outside of the Wire, he is on the club waterski team, and enjoys everything outdoors. He is looking forward to the upcoming basketball season and getting to photograph games at Fiserv Forum.

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