Recruiting update: Searching for a ‘big’

Alright, hyenas. As we did last year around this time — 364 days ago, to be exact — Paint Touches has the inside scoop on where Marquette is looking to fill its recruiting class for next season.

A couple of high-profile shooting guards have been listed with Marquette recently in high-school senior Ahmed Hill and junior college freshman Sam Cassell Jr. The former, Hill, has long been considered the Golden Eagles’ top priority, and while Missouri is believed to be the front runner at this point, the Marquette staff has an in-home visit with him today and, pending his commitment to the Golden Eagles or another school, Hill is expected to take an official visit to Milwaukee later in the month. This is very much still an open-ended race.

Along with Missouri, Florida State, Indiana and Florida are Hill’s final five schools. If the Golden Eagles can secure a commitment from the top-40 shooting guard at any points in the process, they’d take it.

Cassell is another intriguing prospect. He took an official visit to Marquette last Thursday and, per Adam Zagoria, is nearing a decision. His top-four schools are reportedly Marquette, Missouri, Connecticut and Florida State. He visited Missouri and may take another visit or two before making his decision, but the obvious junior-college connection with Buzz Williams, as well as his father’s connection with Milwaukee gives Marquette a solid chance with the former Maryland commit. He would have three seasons of eligibility remaining, beginning in 2014-15.

A third prospect, 6-foot-6 wing Marial Shayok, is another one of Marquette’s serious prospects. Williams has made his recruitment one of his main priorities, and Shayok’s coach told Adam Zagoria that the Golden Eagles — whose staff visited him on Sept. 10 — and Virginia are in the lead for his services. Minnesota, Seton Hall, Southern Cal, Boston College and Providence are also in hot pursuit of the interior-oriented wing, so keep a close eye on his recruitment. Shayok has an official visit to Marquette planned for Sept. 26.

A shooting guard to pair with Jajuan Johnson and Todd Mayo next season would be a great fit, and Williams would likely do wonders with Shayok as the team’s newest switchable, but the buzz inside Marquette camp is that a post player is still a major need and a position the staff is going after hard.

The news isn’t all that shocking, considering the Golden Eagles will lose center Chris Otule and power forward Jamil Wilson and Davante Gardner next season. Incoming junior-college forward Jameel McKay will be a senior in 2014, leaving only Steve Taylor Jr. as a “big” on the roster.

To backtrack quickly, Marquette has two open scholarships remaining for the 2014 class. Gone are Otule, Wilson, Gardner and Jake Thomas (4), and Williams has already secured commitments from four-star shooting guard Sandy Cohen and four-star small forward Malek Harris.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to predict one of those scholarships could be filled by Hill, Cassell Jr. or Shayok, but the focus is just as much on finding a replacement big to reload the Golden Eagles’ frontcourt.

Below are the four post players Marquette is recruiting most heavily. And while there’s no real order to the list based on Marquette’s desire or the recruits’ interest level, 6-foot-8 center Tory Miller appears to be the top prospect the Golden Eagles are looking at to fill the void in 2014.

— Tory Miller (6-foot-8 center, New Hampton Prep, N.H.)

ESPN: 3-star, No. 37 center
Rivals: 3-star, Not ranked
Scout: 3-star

Schools: Arizona State, Colorado, Iowa, Marquette

Analysis: It makes sense that Marquette is going hard after Miller. Though he’s just 6-foot-8 — undersized for a true center — he makes plenty of room in the post with his 250-pound frame and has stellar feet and hands (sound like a certain player on Marquette?) The added bonus is that he has great athleticism and is looking for a school that will utilize his post moves. What may set the Golden Eagles apart is that he’ll take his official visit during Marquette Madness weekend, and it’s his last of four scheduled visits — plus he plans to take all his official visits. 

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— Khadeem Lattin (6-foot-9 center, Houston Hoops AAU)

ESPN: 4-star, No. 61
Rivals: 3-star, No. 124
Scout: 4-star, No. 16 center

Schools: Baylor, Georgetown, Houston, Marquette, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, SMU, Southern Cal

Analysis: The highest-ranked prospect of the four hasn’t been mentioned much with Marquette, but he’s still softly on the radar and the Golden Eagles have offered. He seemed to enjoy his unofficial visit to SMU, and there’s a handful of Texas/Oklahoma schools in on his recruitment. It will be interesting to see how Marquette tries to get itself into the race, if it so chooses to do so.

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— Jabari Craig (6-foot-10 center, Fishburne Military School, Va.)

ESPN: 3-star, No. 35 center
Rivals: 3-star, No. 144
Scout: 3-star, No. 22 center

Schools: Arizona, Arizona State, Connecticut, Clemson, Marquette, Old Dominion, Purdue, USC, Virginia, 13 others

Analysis: The athletic Canadian center has 22 scholarship offers and has only taken one official visit (USC, Sept. 7), and after Marquette offered in June they visited him two weeks ago. There hasn’t been much written about where his recruitment stands — USC is considered the front runner — but the Golden Eagles seem to be in fine position, as Craig’s AAU coach confirmed he will visit the Milwaukee campus. He hasn’t been playing basketball long, yet his athleticism and desire to use that talent in a fast-paced offense bodes well for the Golden Eagles. Keep an eye out for updates.

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— Ben Lammers (6-foot-10 center, Alamo Heights, Tex.)

ESPN: Not ranked
Rivals: Not ranked
Scout: 3-star, No. 19 center

Schools: Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Marquette, Miami, Oklahoma State, Saint Louis, Stanford, Texas A&M

Analysis: An under-the-radar prospect, Lammers has already taken official visits to Marquette (Aug. 31) and Miami (Sept. 14) and also stopped by Georgia Tech to meet with Brian Gregory and the Yellow Jackets. He is expected to announce his top-3 schools soon, and he wants to sign in November, so Marquette should know where it stands in the coming week or weeks. Lammers has good athleticism and length and has said he wants to get away from Texas, which surely helps Marquette.

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