The Marquette Golden Eagles have soared to a fast start this season. Well, there isn’t much question returning players have led the way, Marquette is getting pivotal contributions from its freshmen recruiting class. The 2022 class was Shaka Smart’s first commits while Marquette’s head coach.
It was a three-man class and all three have made invaluable contributions. The 2022 recruiting class: PG Sean Jones, wing Chase Ross and stretch 4 big Ben Gold.
None of the freshmen’s numbers are going to wow you. Marquette also took some narrow losses this season that they had chances to win. Part of the growing pains. However, the talent of this class has also helped win Marquette some games. The experience of it all will be of great value in March.
Marquette's freshmen have been an underrated piece to the puzzle. Sean Jones and Chase Ross have fit in nicely. They combined for 18 points tonight.
— John Fanta (@John_Fanta) December 28, 2022
Ross has been and will continue to be a key cog in the Golden Eagles’ rotation. Ross came in with a college ready body and a very good defender. He has proven to be a solid and active defender. Ross hasn’t been a slouch offensively either. Ross has been throwing down some rim-rattling dunks this year and none better than his thunderous jam vs. Seton Hall Saturday.
CHASE ROSS 🔨 TIME! pic.twitter.com/OiwGYVzek9
— BIG EAST MBB (@BIGEASTMBB) January 21, 2023
Ross isn’t just a dunker, either. He has a nice shooting stroke and can put it on the deck a bit. He also doesn’t force things, averaging 5.5 points in 17 minutes, but he is shooting over 52% from the floor and 35.3% from beyond the arc. Ross has all the makings of a special player at Marquette and is tantalizing fans with glimpses already as a freshman.
Jones came into Marquette with the reputation as a bulldog defensively. He can get onto the floor with his defense and he has made contributions this season. Jones gets about 15 minutes per contest, but the ball is largely in the hands of Tyler Kolek, the dazzling passer who is one of the best assist-men in the nation. But Jones has had some very solid performances this year and is the backup PG. He also is used to give Kolek a breather at times to not bring the ball up. Either way a backup point guard is a very important asset to a club and Jones has looked very solid this season.
Jones is averaging 4.5 points, 1.2 assists per game and .7 steals per game in just 12.7 minutes per game.
Marquette freshman PG Sean Jones has a chance to emerge into one of the best on-ball defenders in the Big East.
Remember The Name. https://t.co/vkrSOsgZUi
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) November 11, 2022
The New Zealand native has seen his minutes dwindle in Big East Conference play. That is a good thing for the Golden Eagles though as it means Oso Ighodaro is staying out of foul trouble. Ben Gold has stretch 4 potential but at this point just isn’t strong enough for consistent minutes.
The 6-10 Gold is very active though. He has the reputation as a tall marksmen from distance, but he struggled mightily with his shot early. Gold started the year cold, hitting just 2 of 14 3s, but has hit 6 of 13 from beyond the arc since Big East play to put his percentage close to 30%. He averages 2.2 points in 7.1 minutes.
Shaka Smart finds moments for all of his freshmen to play, including Gold. Despite averaging less than eight minutes per game, Gold averages nearly a block per game with his relentless activity.
Ben Gold has given #mubb a needed jolt – corner three followed by a monster block.
— Ben Steele (@BenSteeleMJS) December 17, 2022
2022 Class brimming with potential
Ross may have the most upside of any Marquette player in a long time. His blend of athleticism, shooting, driving ability and defensive play has everyone salivating over his potential. He is already becoming a staple of the Marquette roation as a freshman. His upside is through the roof like his leaping ability. While there is no doubt the returning quartet of Kolek, Maxence-Prosper, Ighodaro and Kam Jones have led the way for Marquette, it would be a mistake to dismiss the contributions of the Golden Eagles’ freshmen.
Ross, Sean Jones and Gold have delivered quality contributions to a team that was picked ninth in the Big East, but is 16-5 and 8-2 in the Big East. Not only are the Golden Eagles looking like this team could do damage in March, Marquette could be scarier next year. Nearly everyone should be back and Shaka Smart has another intriguing recruiting class coming in. Shaka Smart has the excitement level back to the Dwyane Wade days in Milwaukee.
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