Before the 2012 season begins, Paint Touches will look at how Buzz Williams and Marquette can finish their 2013 recruiting class. As it stands, Marquette has one open scholarship for the class. If Chris Otule does not return for a sixth season, Marquette would have two open spots. Todd Mayo appears to have done enough to be reinstated, but the fact that at least one player has transferred in each of Williams’ five seasons as head coach, multiple scholarships may still be available even if Otule does return.
Buzz Williams has said in the past that, in more words or less, if he signs three “ball handlers” in a recruiting class it’s because he couldn’t sign four. In his three-guard offense, any of those three can bring the ball up and initiate sets, and his up-tempo style plays best with as many dribble-drive threats as possible.
As it stands for the 2013-14 season, leading the way will be Derrick Wilson. There’s no denying this upcoming sophomore season will be an important one for the 6-foot-1 guard in terms of offensive progression. He attempted just 16 shots as a freshman, deferring as a distributor and pesky defender.
But backing up Junior Cadougan and his likely 30+ minutes per game this year means Wilson may not be able to improve in a game setting until he is forced into the role as a junior. Practice, individual workouts and natural progression will help him. And while freshman jitters will be behind him, there is no substitute for game experience, and he projects to fill a similar role in 2012-13 that he had last year.
Should Wilson continue to carve out a niche as a defensive stopper, something every championship team needs but doesn’t neccessarily translate into a starter in Williams’ offense, incoming freshman Duane Wilsoncould potentially take the starting gig.
A state title and an impressive AAU circuit this summer has Duane shooting up 2013 recruit rankings, on some websites into the top-50. With a strong senior season, it would not be surprising to see Duane vault into the top 30 of his class.
At 6-foot-3, Duane is already taller than any point guard Williams has had in his four-plus seasons as Marquette’s head coach. The biggest caveat Duane has going for him is his ability as a combo guard. Part of Williams’ “switchable” theory is players not only being able to play multiple positions, but also to play those positions at the same time. What Williams attempts to do with Vander Blue or Todd Mayo playing point guard is that they also have shooting guard capabilities. But Duane already has the (tougher) point guard skills down, and his shooting is an added bonus.
The biggest question, of course, is how quickly that translates to the college game. Duane will start down the line at some point, potentially as a freshman. At the same time, nothing is easier than getting excited about an incoming recruit, let alone a highly-ranked one. Duane will have to acclimate like any freshman, but he has a chance to be Williams’ top recruit since Blue in 2010. That in itself is reason to believe he could start as a freshman. Still, only Blue has seen consistent time in the starting lineup as a rookie.
But should Williams remain true to his recruiting philosophy, he will take a ball handler if the opportunity presents itself. T.J. Taylor would have given Williams and Marquette an impressive three-headed monster at the point in 2013, but his departure has left a void.
Then again, Williams and Marquette fared well with two true point guards in 2011-12, and will be forced to do so again in 2012-13. While that includes an upperclassman and established point in Cadougan, Williams’ classes have featured off-the-ball guards who also can pass in Blue, Mayo and Darius Johnson-Odom, making a third point guard less of a priority.
A more likely scenario is Williams pursuing a point guard in the 2014 class, when he will have three scholarships at his disposal. A 2014 recruit would enter as a freshman behind a senior in Derrick Wilson and sophomore Duane Wilson.
There aren’t many high major point guards left in the 2013 class, and Williams already has one of those in Duane Wilson. Whether it’s a true point guard in 2014 or a combo guard in either 2013 or ’14, it would both make sense and stay in line with Williams’ recruiting philosophy if one committed in either year.