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Preseason Player Profiles: Marcus Tsohonis

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How much will we see of the freshman combo guard this season?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Washington vs North Carolina Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Tsohonis; Freshman; Portland, Oregon

6’3, 185 lbs. Class of 2019: 3 stars, #315 overall (247 Composite)

Nike EYBL Stats: 12.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 42.9% FG, 28.8% 3pt, 78.1% FT

Italy Stats: 22.5 minutes, 9.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.3 steals, 43.4% FG, 27.8% 3pt, 50% FT

Almost one year ago the Huskies were faced with the prospect of having a point guard room of...just Elijah Hardy should Jaylen Nowell bolt to the NBA. That of course ended up happening so there was extra pressure placed on finding another point guard for 2019 (Quade Green didn’t decide to transfer until 3 months later). The choice apparently came down to Seattle Rotary teammates Noah Williams and Marcus Tsohonis. The Huskies prioritized Tsohonis while Williams ended up at Washington State and it will be interesting to compare their careers side by side. Marcus averaged 24.1 points, 7.4 assists, and 6.2 rebounds per game while at Jefferson in Portland.

Offensive Game

Coming into this summer Tsohonis was viewed as more of a scorer than a true passer given his relatively low assist total in the EYBL especially compared to the aforementioned Williams. But every interview from those who had spent significant time watching Marcus in high school used some combination of the phrases “gamer” and “just makes guys around him better”.

That popped off the screen once I finally got eyes on him with his performance in Italy. Nate Roberts was my number one overachiever but Tsohonis was in a very close second. There’s just nothing on the floor that he’s not capable of doing. There’s a little bit of herky jerky to his game which just seems to put defenders off balance and allows him to drive despite lacking elite athleticism. It’s nowhere close to Jaylen Nowell but Tsohonis showed the ability to pull up and knock down the midrange shot if necessary as well.

The shooting percentages haven’t been great at any level but I don’t see any great mechanical flaws in his stroke. My guess is that those percentages will come up when he’s not relied on as the primary shot creator and fewer of those looks are off the dribble. He did hit a beautiful buzzer beater from way downtown at the end of a half in one of the Italy games.

While Tsohonis is not a pass first guy he’s also certainly not a ball hog by any stretch. His playing style is much more in line with Jaylen Nowell as a shooting guard with above average passing skills rather than a point guard with above average scoring skills. He finished with an assist to turnover ratio of less than one in Italy and a lot of the turnovers were careless. But they also came with big leads against overmatched competition trying to make a play that wasn’t there. The hope is that in a full college environment that we won’t see that continue. And if it does then Tsohonis won’t be playing very much.

Defensive Game

Tsohonis is listed at 6’3 but you’d be forgiven for thinking that he’s about 6’6 because of the hair. Watching him at the top of the zone in Italy it just looked like he was bigger than his listed height and weight because he caused chaos for opponents. Marcus led the team in steals during the exhibition tour at over 3 per game.

He got most of them by playing the passing lanes rather than getting up in his opponents’ face. I don’t know exactly how long Marcus’s arms are but they’re certainly long enough to get in the way of all but the most well thought out passes. I don’t view Tsohonis as an elite athlete and his arms are at least 6 inches shorter than Matisse’s were which means most of those steals came through reading the passer’s eyes and a high basketball IQ.

Once we get into the college season against Pac-12 level competition it’s unlikely that he’s going to be a guy that continues to lead the team in steal rate. But given that first impression it’s also hard to imagine that he won’t be at least an average disruptor from day one. The challenge for Tsohonis will be to make sure that he isn’t getting punished gambling for the steal as often as he makes the play. Playing assignment sound is priority number one and once that’s down then you can start freelancing a little.

Expectations for 2019-20

I mentioned in the Elijah Hardy preview that this section is difficult without knowing whether Quade Green is eligible for the first 10 games. I really like the idea of Tsohonis coming off the bench to play mostly with the second unit which might need a little more scoring punch from their primary ball handler. A substitution pattern where Tsohonis comes in from the 14 to 10 minute mark playing alongside Jamal Bey and Hameir Wright plus one of Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart (I realize that’s only 4) would still be functional on offense, suffocating on defense, and allow 3 of your starters to rest.

Projecting a true freshman is always hard. They tried to smooth out the minutes as much as possible in Italy but Tsohonis finished third on the team in playing time behind only Naz Carter and Isaiah Stewart. That feels like it has to mean something. Hopkins has shown he’s willing to start a player (Sam Timmins) while closing with another (Noah Dickerson). That could be the case for the Hardy/Tsohonis split while Green is out and it could be a game by game decision who sees the court once Green is back.

Per Game Projections: 10 minutes, 2.2 points, 0.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 46.7% FG, 32.1% 3pt, 60.9% FT