Editor’s note: we did not mean to make this Duane Wilson appreciation week, it just happened to work out that way. This is the last installment. Probably.
After a trial run last week that had me watching Marquette-Rec-Center-quality basketball for three hours, I finally took my first stab at evaluating talent. Only elite talent, might I add, because 98 percent of the players on the courts will end up competing for the coveted coed B-league intramural championship at their respective college.
On Tuesday night, Duane Wilson — the 2013 Marquette commit — made my previous fruitless venture more than worthwhile. He put on a show and then some against Wisconsin Lutheran, bringing out the full arsenal to wow even the opponents’ moms sitting behind me.
Let’s bring it back some though. You walk in to MSOE’s Kern Center and see the three courts filled with high school ballers who, for all their short comings — emphasis on short — provide as much entertainment as you can expect from $3 nowadays. There are a few decent players, but for the most part this is exactly what a high school summer league is supposed to be: sloppy, frenetic and defense-less.
I’ve heard people say you can tell who the superb athletes are before even watching them for a minute, and I can now testify to the validity of that statement. Indiana-bound recruit Luke Fisher towered over his opposition and, even though he was probably giving it 60 percent, glided past defenders effortlessly. I’d have more to say about him, but his team was up by 50-something points, and he sat most of the time I watched.
Enter Duane Wilson.
The first thing that came to my mind was swagger. He doesn’t just walk, it’s more like a strut even without the intention to do so. While he is by no means jacked, his body is chiseled and has about as much fat as I have talent.
His garb sets him apart as well. It was no coincidence that he was wearing his blue, Under-Armour NBPA Top 100 shorts and Marquette Jordans. He wants you to look. He wants you to think about it every time you’re in front of him. He oozes confidence. Needless to say, he hadn’t even taken a practice shot, and he had already wowed me.
You can imagine my reaction when the game began, and he lived up to his immense hype and then some. If you want to short version just read his stat line (as far as I had it): 46 points on 18-26 shooting, 6-11 from beyond the arc, 6-7 from the line, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 3 turnovers and 2 fouls. That’s all well and good, but seeing as some of the defenders trying to guard him weren’t even freshman yet, the stat line needs context.
Below is my unofficial sketch of Wilson’s shot chart. Despite being blazing hot, you will notice a good mix of inside and outside shots. He did a great job of abusing the smaller opposition taking all but two of his non 3-point shots inside the paint.
Wilson scored 20 points in the first half, hitting seven consecutive shots at one point, and followed that up with 26 in the second, hitting nine consecutive shots to start the half. His shot sequence, represented by capital X and Os for 3-pointers looked like this:
XoooOOOOXXxx|ooooooOoOXXoox. Oooo indeed.
Here are some more observations, coupled with shaky cam evidence.
A player doesn’t score over half his team’s points and get called selfless very often, but that is exactly the word to describe Wilson. The first two possessions of the game he looked for his buddy in the low blocks, phenom Diamond Stone who had a good 5 inches over those trying to guard him. He was smart enough to see the advantage and feed him early and often. At only one juncture did Wilson force a shot up, and that was a pull-up, NBA Jam style heat check in the first half after hitting his previous 7 shots (and four 3s).
I happened to be sitting next to a few Eisenhower player awaiting their game for the better part of the first half and one of their comments stuck with me. On the fourth or fifth offensive possession of the game, Wilson made a pin-point accurate pass from the top of the key to a teammate streaking down the baseline. One player remarked, “I didn’t even see him. I thought he was throwing it away.” Wilson has very good court vision and a timely feel for when to make the pass.
3) Finishing ability
This was the trait that stuck out the most on the nights. Whether it was a scoop, bank, tip, finger-roll, dunk or floater, Wilson proved he was money around the basket finishing with both his left and his right hand. He does well to avoid the shot blockers and is strong enough to finish even when there is contact.
Summer league games are notorious for their laissez-faire ball handling and reckless attacks to the whole. Yet, despite the environment, Wilson limited his turnovers, committing only three against Wisconsin-Lutheran. He looks at ease with the ball in his hand, and although recruited as a combo-guard, will see plenty of minutes at the point due to his handles and vision.
This part of his game was particularly surprising. Wilson attacked the boards with a ferociousness usually reserved for dunks. I’m a bit skeptical about the transferability of this skill to the next level simply because he won’t be able to easily leap over defenders blocking out. Nevertheless, if he can learn to control that aggression a la Vander on the boards, he can definitely become a good rebounding guard.
Goes down smooth. Nice form. Quick release. Check please.
This one is easy to spot, even by my unexperienced eyes. He’s got hops, and he uses them well. Wilson glides whether he is going forwards, backwards, up or down and uses it to his advantage both on offense and defense.