What does Jose Perez’ immediate eligibility mean for Marquette?

Back in June, as D.J. Carton was receiving an official waiver from the NCAA to not have to sit out a year after transferring from Ohio State, I wondered about Jose Perez’ waiver, as the initial thought was he’d be sitting out the season. Sure enough, as of that day, a waiver had not been requested.

Which makes Saturday night’s news that the NCAA had cleared Perez to play that much more surprising.

I had no idea that was even a question, and neither Wojo, the staff, nor Jose had indicated at any point that they were applying for immediate eligibility. It was a legitimate shock.

But as that initial surprise wore off, the thought process behind it started to become clearer. In October, the NCAA announced all winter athletes would receive an extra season of eligibility due to COVID running havoc on traditional seasons, no questions asked.

What that meant, in practice, is that the rationale for having Jose sit out got thrown out the window. Initially, Wojo had stated they wanted Jose to use this year to get acclimated to the Big East level, coming from Gardner Webb, in order to be a productive player the following two seasons, in 2022 and 2023.

But now, if this is indeed a “free year” for all athletes, there’s no point in having him sit. If he’s a little used player, that’s ok, he can still remain eligible through the 2023 season and no harm is done. If he can contribute and carve out a real role right away, even better.

Basically, there’s no reason to artificially cap his ability to play. The NCAA has been fairly liberal in giving out waiver this offseason, and Jose’s case was as good as Carton’s.

So here we are, with an eligible Jose and the question now becomes, what kind of an impact can we expect from him?

For starters, let’s be frank in that he has a very poor sophomore campaign. He posted an ORtg of 94.7, about the same as Koby McEwen, on 28% usage in the 3rd worst conference in the country. His BPM (Box Plus Minus) on TRank was -1.7, which, even if you know nothing about BPM can guess that it’s not a good thing to be below 0.

If you want to keep it basic, he shot 25% on 3s and 37% on 2s for an eFG% of 37.7%. In fact, there were only 5 players in the country to have a usage over 25% and an eFG% under 40, and Perez was in the basement of that infamous club.

I don’t write all this to knock him or his fit with Marquette. After all, over 30 teams reached out when he announced he was transferring. There’s also the fact that like Carton, Perez sat out the last 10 games of the season for personal reasons. There was off the court issues that were affecting on court play.

But the point is, there’s a reason Marquette didn’t file a waiver request immediately and was clear with the fact he’d be able to use the redshirt year to acclimate.

All that being said, the latest news/reports/observations have been pretty rosy about Jose’s play in practice and scrimmage settings.

With Dexter Akanno still not cleared to practice over a month after contracting COVID and Greg Elliott still working his way back from injury and offseason surgery, there was very little backcourt depth to be found.

Perez won’t be a starter and won’t be the focal point of the offense any time soon, but he has good size and is a creative player that can space the floor and create a shot for himself, if needed. He can play 2-4 in a pinch, and although he’s not a very disruptive defensive player, he’s a decent rebounder.

The hope is, with less defensive attention and reliance on creating for himself, Perez can find his shooting touch and get closer to the promising player he was after his freshman season, nearly knocking off Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tourney while scoring 19 points in 35 minutes.

He’s not fast. He’s not athletic. He’s a crafty player with an edge. If he can bring some toughness and knock down some open shots, he’ll help give Marquette’s backcourt an immediate boost in depth and quality.

Perez’ eligibility won’t make much of a dent on this team’s ceiling, but can help raise the floor.

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Categories: Analysis

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