Watching Theo John’s high school tape is like watching an NBA player getting another year of college eligibility. There is no one who competes with him physically, athletically, or technically. He looks incredibly polished as a big man. He outjumps you, he outmuscles you, he outruns you, and he dunks all over you.
Marquette couldn’t have asked for anyone better than him to come in so college-ready as a player, because Marquette returns only one true big man in Matt Heldt, and adds only two more in Harry Froling (at winter break) and Ike Eke (a fellow freshman). Long story short, Marquette needed a big man to come in and be game-ready, if not ready to start.
Theo is all of that and more. The Minneapolis, Minnesota native checks in at 6-foot-9, 245 lbs. He comes into Marquette on the back of a state championship appearance and his high school (Champlin Park) being ranked Top 25 nationally. He finished second in the state his senior year in blocked shots with a massive 146 and averaged 14 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game as a junior. He had over 1,000 career points and was a 4 year letter-winner.
In addition to how much more physical and athletic he is than most people his size, Theo has a pretty touch around the rim. He also possesses the ability to finish with both hands both over and around people, and a large array of post moves. John’s shown flashes of a post-up jump shot. He positions well for rebounds on both ends and, as shown by his career numbers in high school, is a natural shot blocker.
In my opinion, he’s a big man defensively ready to at least compete with Angel Delgado, Omari Spellman, and the other elite forwards and centers in the Big East. He’ll also be asked to cover Isaac Haas, Ethan Happ, and others in the nonconference schedule. He’ll have his hands full, but he’s up to the task.
He’s still got facets of his game he needs to improve. The post-up jump shot, for one. A more consistent stroke from outside of five feet, for another. He’ll be asked at times to be the only man as a true post player on the offensive side of the ball for the Golden Eagles. His interior touches will have to be smart and efficient, whether it’s finding a way to score or finding a good pass, whether it’s to a cutter or a shooter.
Theo John is the most likely first day starter of Marquette’s freshmen this year. He’ll log the most minutes in a not-so-deep rotation. Especially early in the season with Harry Froling not eligible until after the Wisconsin game. He’ll be vital all year for the Golden Eagles, though, and has the ability to be an elite big man in the Big East. I’m excited to see what he does with his time in Milwaukee, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks that.