While Marquette managed to put together a five-member freshman class ranked among the best in the country by multiple scouting outlets, only four of those players were available for the team’s trip to Italy. Wednesday, following the Golden Eagles’ final game on the 4-0 trip, head coach Steve Wojciechowski provided the team with some good news regarding the status of that fifth freshman.
Guard Haanif Cheatham, who was allowed to travel but was not cleared by the NCAA to play in games during the trip, has now been cleared for competition. Marquette announced the news Wednesday, and they also sent along video of Wojciechowski telling Cheatham and his teammates.
Cheatham joins fellow freshmen Sacar Anim and Tracy Carter and transfer Andrew Rowsey (who will have to sit out this season) as scholarship newcomers in the Marquette backcourt rotation. On the perimeter the Golden Eagles return JaJuan Johnson, Duane Wilson and Sandy Cohen, with Wally Ellenson eligible after sitting out the 2014-15 season following his transfer in from Minnesota.
Ranked 76th in the Class of 2015 by Rivals.com, Cheatham averaged 24 points per game as a high school senior and has the perimeter shooting ability to help Marquette account for the loss of leading three-point shooter Matt Carlino.
Marquette is heading to Italy this week as part of a summer exhibition trip but they’ll have to play without freshman wing Haanif Cheatham, according to a report from Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Cheatham has yet to be cleared by the NCAA and can’t participate in games on the trip after competing in practices.
The 6-foot-5 native of Florida was regarded as a consensus top-100 prospect in the Class of 2016 and this would have been a nice trip for him to get accustomed to playing a higher level of basketball with his new team. At least still Cheatham can still travel with the team when they are there from the 10th through the 19th of August.
Without Cheatham, the team will have to use some smaller guard packages that feature Duane Wilson and freshman Traci Carter. It would have been nice for Marquette to have Cheatham for the trip, but he’s played with the team for a bit in summer practices and he’ll find out his fate of the NCAA
With one of the nation’s top recruiting classes joining the program this summer, Marquette is a team many believe to be capable of turning things around after a tough 2014-15 campaign. But one of Steve Wojciechowski’s most important players is 7-footer Luke Fischer, who was a key contributor for the Golden Eagles once he became eligible to play following his transfer from Indiana.
Fischer played last season while dealing with a left shoulder that was less than 100 percent, averaging 11.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 24 contests. With the issue having been addressed via offseason surgery, Fischer is back to full strength ahead of the team’s upcoming trip to Italy and Switzerland as noted by the Associated Press earlier this week.
(Henry) Ellenson is fully recovered after breaking his left hand in the Wisconsin high school basketball playoffs in March. He is ready to play overseas, as is junior center Luke Fischer, who is recovered from left shoulder surgery.
“I’m 100 percent,” Fischer said. “No more worries about that. I was always ahead of schedule, which was fantastic. Rehab went by real quick. I never had any worries about it, any issues with it. We’re looking great right now.”
These trips can be incredibly valuable for teams preparing for the upcoming season, especially one as young as Marquette will be in 2015-16. The Golden Eagles don’t have a scholarship senior on the roster, and they’ll have to account for the loss of their leading scorer in guard Matt Carlino as well.
Marquette won’t lack for talent, with players such as Fischer, guard Duane Wilson and freshman forward Henry Ellenson leading the way. But for a group with so many newcomers, having the extra time (in games and practices) to strengthen their chemistry will help them a great deal. Getting to visit two countries many of them have never been to isn’t a bad way to do so either.