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Insider

Despite personnel losses, Marquette could be ready for another tourney run

Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire

We continue our recruit and return series with the Marquette Golden Eagles, whose season ended Friday with a loss to South Carolina in the East Region. A look at what the 2017-18 season could hold:

Possible 2017-18 starting five

G: Andrew Rowsey

G: Markus Howard

G: Haanif Cheatham

F: Sam Hauser

C: Matt Heldt

Who is lost: Marquette had a balanced attack this season, with seven guys averaging 8.7 points or better. Three of them will be gone in 2017-18. Jajuan Johnson took big steps forward in his final two seasons with the Golden Eagles, averaging double-figures as a junior and senior and showing himself as a capable two-way player who could make shots and plays at one end and defend at the other. Graduate transfer Katin Reinhardt added experience during his one season in the program, getting hot from 3-point range late in the season and making an impact in the push toward an at-large bid. Former Indiana transfer Luke Fischer added a different dimension to the Marquette attack but struggled offensively late in the season.

Who is added: There were two players redshirting this past season: wing Sacar Anim, who seldom played as a freshman and then sat out as a sophomore, and SMU transfer Harry Froling, a big body who will help replace Fischer down low. Among the incoming freshmen, four-star forward Jamal Cain is the headliner. He’s a Detroit native who likes to get out in the open floor and play in transition but can also make shots. Three-star forward Theo John is long and will help out down low with his rebounding. Ikechukwu Eke rounds out the recruiting class.

What it means for next season: Steve Wojciechowski still has plenty of pieces for next season. Andrew Rowsey and Markus Howard will form one of the best backcourts in the Big East. Rowsey is a tough-minded shot-maker who can really fill it up from the perimeter and is crafty enough to get into the lane and create. Howard is similar, in that he can play on or off the ball and shoot from 3-point range. He shot nearly 55 percent from behind the arc as a freshman. Haanif Cheatham has length and can guard multiple positions on the perimeter; he will take on an increased role without Johnson and Reinhardt. Look for Sam Hauser to take a step forward. At 6-foot-7, he can really shoot it from the perimeter and had a strong final stretch. Matt Heldt showed flashes as a sophomore and will help replace Fischer.

Trending: Level. Wojo led Marquette to its first NCAA tournament in four seasons and could make a return trip next year. Rowsey and Howard are a very tough backcourt, but the key could be Hauser. If he breaks out, the Golden Eagles will be back in the national mix in March.