Junior Cadougan won 97 games in his four seasons at Marquette. After tearing his Achilles tendon during his freshman season, Cadougan led the Golden Eagles to three straight Sweet 16 appearances, including an Elite Eight spot last year.
He, along with Dominic James (for one season), Mo Acker and Dwight Buycks are the only consistent starting point guards Buzz Williams has had in his five-year tenure at Marquette. Derrick Wilson did start at Wisconsin in 2011 after Cadougan was suspended for a violation of team rules.
Wilson is expected to take the reins as the leader of the offense the next two years. Duane Wilson should give him a run for his money, but it may take some time, especially now that the freshman is expected to miss “multiple weeks” with a stress fracture in his left leg, the team announced Monday.
“Any time you start talking about a kid that’s 18 years old, who’s never heard more than one profane word in a sentence, it’s hard to know how they’re going to react,” Williams said in typical Buzz fashion. “He’s a really good kid. He loves the fact that he’s here.
“He cares about this city, he cares about this school, about this program, but as far as he was this phenom at Dominican High School and how does that translate here: It stops at the door when you walk into Kasten (Gym).”
Wilson is listed at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, but that had to have been measured with a brick in each pocket after Wilson came inside from a downpour. He needs to hit the weight room or he’ll be pushed around by bigger, strong point guards all year.
Derrick Wilson is one inch shorter than the freshman but is 35 pounds heavier and has two years of seasoning under his belt. His leadership abilities have seemingly transformed over the summer and he’s talking the part now.
“It’s big shoes to fill (replacing Cadougan) and who knows what I can do with those shoes, but I have to have the confidence to play my game and not worry what everybody else is saying,” Derrick said. “I trust in Buzz in what he wants to do. I have my teammates to help me out too.
“I am ready and I’ve been waiting for awhile for this moment.”
Wilson has scored just 60 points in two seasons in Milwaukee after averaging 17 points per game as a senior at The Hotchkiss (Conn.) School. While he sports an impressive 2.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in two seasons, he’s been known more for his stout defense than an offensive juggernaut.
But that may be changing. He says he worked on his ball handling and shooting off the dribble over the summer.
The biggest challenge for Derrick Wilson is the mental aspect of the game.
“I think at this level, I don’t think anybody’s abilities are questioned, but it’s more of the mental aspect for some people,” he said. “I think that’s true for me. I think I have to let loose a little bit.”
Just like few people expected Cadougan to lead the team in scoring, few should expect a lot of double-digit scoring performances out of Derrick Wilson this season.
It should also be noted that Cadougan stepped up and scored when he needed to and Wilson expects to be able to do the same.
“I think I’ve worked enough with our coaching staff over the summer to put myself in a position to score,” he said. “This year I have to be better because we lost three perimeter guys, three starters which is tough.
“I have to step in and be the best I can be. Our coaching staff has helped me to be in the position for me to step up and do that.”
Nobody is questioning Duane Wilson’s ability, particularly on the offensive end. Wilson averaged 23.8 points, 4.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game and shot 61 percent from the floor last year while leading Dominican (Wis.) High School to its second state championship in four seasons.
Wilson was a unanimous First Team All-State honoree last year and was a two-time conference MVP. He was also a consensus top 100 recruit and ranked as high as No. 51 by Rivals.com.
Another Wilson, his cousin Jamil, believes Duane has the ability and confidence to contribute to the team as a freshman.
“He’s a typical freshman as far as experiencing a bit of a culture shock when he first got here,” Jamil Wilson said. “His ability to make plays has impressed me the most. I caught a couple of his games in high school and always saw him scoring, but he can pass the ball really well.”
As with any freshman, Jamil said Duane needs to work on his decision-making and become a better defender to see consistent minutes this year.
“He’s young, the game is changing a lot,” Jamil said. “He’s still in all different kinds of phases of it. College is entirely different from high school. He just needs to work on some small things, it’s nothing huge.”
So the question is how will the younger Wilson fit in on this team and how much will he play this year? It seemed obvious that Williams will give Derrick Wilson the first crack at starting and if his loyalty to Cadougan over the past four seasons is any indication, Duane may have a tough time taking the starting spot away from Derrick, at least initially.
Fans and pundits criticized Williams for sticking with Cadougan at times, although the point guard’s play improved tremendously over his last two seasons. He became one of the most critical cogs of the offense and for this year’s team to replicate the success of the last three seasons, the point guard will again have to do the same.
Duane Wilson isn’t coming in to steal anyone’s spot, he said. He’s just trying to put good practices together and see how that will translate to playing time.
“College is a different level of competition,” Duane said. “Practices are much more intense and much harder. It was a big adjustment and big step. I feel like I’m taking steps and I’m getting there.
“Derrick is a great teammate, a great defender. We’re able to make each other better. I’m taking it as a learning experience right now. I’ve got a lot to learn. He learned a lot from Junior in the past, so now I’m going to fill in right behind him and I expect to learn a lot.
“I don’t really care about taking his spot. I’m not into all that. I came in here to win and be a team player.”
Derrick Wilson seems to understand what it means to be a point guard in Buzz Williams’ offense. He also understands that having a player who can challenge him in practice every day is only beneficial.
“I need to get the offense in spots where they need to be at and at the end of the day, we have to put points on the board,” he said. “Nobody looks at how many you lost by, they look at ‘W’s’ and ‘L’s’ and I think the most important thing overall is we have to get more ‘W’s.’
“Duane is a great player, really athletic, he can shoot. We can learn from each other and teach each other different things. That’s part of the learning curve and I think I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here and I think we can both complement each other really well.”