Marquette’s Otule wants to return for sixth year

MILWAUKEE — Marquette University’s men’s basketball team got some big news Tuesday, as starting center Chris Otule has decided to return to school.

The school confirmed Tuesday evening that Otule will be back for a sixth year at Marquette once the NCAA formally approves his extra year due to medical hardship.

There shouldn’t be a problem in the NCAA approving a sixth year because Otule fits all of the criteria required.

“We are excited that Chris has decided to go through the process of applying for his sixth year,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said in a statement. “We don’t anticipate any issues with this, but it’s a process that the NCAA will handle as judiciously as possible, and when we have been given confirmation, we will release that as well.”

Injuries have plagued Otule over the course of his career, but he was granted a fifth and likely now a sixth year of eligibility because of three season-ending injuries.

Otule missed all but nine games in 2008-09 with a broken left foot and then broke his right foot in the third game of the 2009-10 season, causing him to miss the rest of that year. He then tore his ACL in the eighth game of the 2011-12 season.

Healthy again this past season, Otule began to make tremendous strides as the year wore on. He went from just a big body in the post to a player Marquette could ill-afford to have off the court.

Otule averaged 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds last season but became much more of an offensive threat toward the middle of the season. The 6-foot-11 center posted his first career double-double in Marquette’s NCAA tournament victory over Davidson, racking up 11 points and 11 rebounds.

He then scored 11 points in just 15 minutes in Marquette’s Sweet 16 victory over Miami a week later.

“I am excited about the opportunity to hopefully have one official final run in my basketball career,” Otule said in a statement. “Best case, I am able to help lead our team even further into the postseason than we have gone the last few years.”

Already ranked in the top 10 in a few of the early preseason polls, Marquette will be helped tremendously by the return of Otule. He will again team with Davante Gardner to give the Golden Eagles a pair of big post players who are matchup nightmares for many opponents.

The only question mark remaining for Marquette is whether leading scorer Vander Blue decides to enter the NBA Draft. Blue has until April 28, the NBA’s early eligibility draft deadline, to decide if he will go pro.

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