What Matt Carlino means for Marquette

(USA Today Sports Images)

(USA Today Sports Images)

Steve Wojciechowski received the first recruit of his Marquette era when BYU graduate point guard Matt Carlino pledged his commitment to the Golden Eagles, made official Friday afternoon. The 6-foot-2 point guard will have one season of eligibility remaining when he arrives on campus after graduating from BYU this spring.

It’ll be the fourth school Carlino’s been attached to since he graduated high school. The four-star guard originally committed to Indiana before flipping to and signing with UCLA in 2010. Before he ever put on the Bruins uniform, however, he opted to transfer to BYU, where he played three successful seasons under Dave Rose.

In 96 career games (71 starts), Carlino averaged 12.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 28 minutes per game. He shot 40 percent from the field, 34 percent from beyond the arc and has averaged better than a steal in each season. He also made 157 3-pointers in those three seasons and had an assist-to-turnover ratio better than two as a junior, giving Wojciechowski and the Golden Eagles an experienced floor general who should do well in Marquette’s new system.

Carlino chose the Golden Eagles over Purdue and St. Joseph’s, among other schools, and as one of the hottest transfers on this year’s market it was quite a haul for Wojciechowski’s first get — perhaps not ironically it was a point guard, the position Wojciechowski played at Duke from 1994 to 1998.

More importantly, it fills a need for the Golden Eagles. Derrick Wilson took plenty of heat last season for his inability to score or initiate the offense when it was falling apart, and though his defense was as good as ever there was no real reason he should have led the team in minutes (30.8) last season. But it was the hand Buzz Williams was dealt; Duane Wilson broke his leg in preseason workouts and John Dawson, though he showed flashes, was never someone expected to play heavy minutes.

It’s unknown whether Carlino will start — bet on “yes” — but either way he’ll provide a scoring threat at the point not seen since Dominic James’ days. As we wrote earlier this month, in the last six seasons Marquette’s starting point guards have averaged 8 points in 200 career games. In those six seasons, the respective point guard has not ranked better than fourth on the team in scoring, a statistic bound to change with Carlino in tow. It could also push Wilson back into a reserve role where he thrived as a freshman and sophomore.

A good portion of that scoring will come from his outside shooting. In the past four seasons combined, Marquette’s point guards have combined to make 63 3-pointers; last year alone Carlino made 60 on his own, so that outside shooting will be a warm welcome. His numbers from beyond the arc, by season, go .331/.335/.339, so he was consistently (slightly) below average in three seasons playing in BYU’s up-tempo offense. Then again, those marks would have ranked second on Marquette a year ago.

Consistency has plagued Carlino since he arrived at BYU; even as a junior he had single-game point totals of 30, 28, 25 and 26….as well as 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7. He made as many as eight 3-pointers in a game and missed as many as six in a row in another game. Still, that playmaking ability will serve well on a team that lost its best one to graduation in Davante Gardner. Someone will have to make the Marquette offense go, and the good version of Carlino will do just that.

His assist rate was among the top-100 in the country a year ago, and he should fit in well on a Marquette team that assisted on more than 59 percent of its made field goals, 29th best in the country. Of course Wojciechowski’s offense will look different than Williams’ did, but there’s enough good passers on the current team that should keep Marquette in the top-40 in said category.

More than anything, perhaps, it suddenly gives Marquette real depth in the backcourt. After 2014 signed recruits Ahmed Hill and Malek Harris opted out of their respective commitments to the Golden Eagles, it left questions as to how the backcourt would shake out. But now the point guard position is set with Carlino, Derrick Wilson and Dawson; at shooting guard Todd Mayo, Jajuan Johnson and Duane Wilson should secure the rotation, while incoming freshman Sandy Cohen and Deonte Burton should fill out a three-guard offense well.

With two spots still open in the 2014 class, it’s possible (and likely) Wojciechowski adds one or two more bodies. As it stands, Marquette has just one player on its roster taller than 6-foot-7, and he (Luke Fischer) isn’t eligible until Marquette’s second semester in January. Even with Carlino on board, there’s a gaping hole inside left by Gardner, Chris Otule and Jamil Wilson departing via graduation.

With just Fischer, Steve Taylor and Juan Anderson making up the Golden Eagles’ frontcourt, there’s still work to be done unless they want to play as one of the smallest teams in the Big East.

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