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Marquette signs four, continues to balance roster

By Mark Strotman

All four Marquette commitments for the 2012 recruiting class signed and sent their National Letters of Intent to coach Buzz Williams Wednesday morning.

Junior college guard T.J. Taylor, and high school seniors forward Steve Taylor, wing Jamal Ferguson and center Aaron Durley were among those who signed on the first day student athletes were eligible officially to sign, Williams announced.

The team chose not to use one of its 13 scholarships for the 2011-2012 season, instead “adding” an additional scholarship for the 2012 recruiting class. Williams said only time will tell if that was the right decision, but that the decision made sense given the distribution and depth of the current roster.

The balance of the recruiting class also was a positive for Williams, who accomplished his annual goal of finding a point guard, a center and switchables in each class.

“I think the distribution of our roster, from a classification standpoint and also from a position standpoint, is probably more stable than it’s ever been,” he said.

Assistant coach Aki Collins also said that the current makeup and depth of the team allowed flexibility with the recruiting class, knowing that a recruit would not have to be thrown into the fire the moment he stepped on campus.

“I think we’re starting to put the pieces together. You look at a kid like Aaron Durley, he’s similar in a a lot of ways to Jamal (Ferguson) in terms of, if he’s ready right away, great, we have another body we can throw into the post and gives us some more flexibility  with our bigs. If he’s not, he will get better every single day, so the future is in good hands.”

Coach Buzz Williams continues to keep the Marquette roster balanced. (Photo Credit: Marquette Tribune/Aaron Ledesma)

Ferguson, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Norfolk, Va., will have four years of eligibility with the Golden Eagles. He averaged 19.0 points and 7.0 rebounds as a high school junior for Maury H.S. and was named to the first team all-district. He was the Golden Eagles first commitment of the class, choosing Marquette over Georgetown.

“We were able to get him on campus and build a relationship probably a little earlier than most had an opportunity to,” Williams said. “He’s a great kid and plays in a really good district in high school. He plays for one of the best AAU programs in the country and he’s another switchable. He doesn’t really have a position. He needs to get better at everything but is not bad at anything. As he continues to get stronger, I think he’ll have a presence for us on both ends.”

The AAU team Williams referred to is Boo Williams, one of the most successful programs on the circuit that annually includes top 100 players in the nation.

T.J. Taylor, who signed with Oklahoma in 2010, did not see any game action after missing time with a concussion. He is now playing for Paris Junior College in Texas and will have three years of eligibility with the Golden Eagles.

The 6-foot-3 guard is Williams’ sixth junior college recruit in four seasons, joining Joe Fulce, Jimmy Butler, Dwight Buycks, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder. All but Buycks and Crowder have joined Marquette with three years of eligibility remaining.

“We’ve had a lot of success with guys that have had three years and he’s very similar to the guys that we’ve coached here that have had three years left,” Williams said. “He can do a lot of different things on both ends of the ball. And losing (Darius Johnson-Odom) …we’re going to need somebody to eat up (minutes). A lot of our returning guys will be able to do that but some of these guys will need to do that as well.”

Steve Taylor is preparing for his senior season at Simeon High School in Chicago, which was rated the top men’s basketball team in the nation by ESPN.com.

Ranked No. 56 by Scout.com and No. 64 by ESPN.com, Steve is the Golden

F Steve Taylor is Buzz Williams' highest ranked recruit for the 2012 class. (Photo credit: CICBasketball.com)

Eagles’ highest-ranked recruit from the class. A switchable, Williams hinted at the 6-foot-7 forward filling the void left by senior forward Jae Crowder’s graduation next season.

“I really like Steve, I think he’s a true switchable,” Williams said. “We’ve had a lot of success with guys that played (power forward) for us. Guys that can shoot, dribble, and pass. He’s definitely one of those guys. He probably a better rebounder than some of the guys we have been able to coach up to this point so I think he addresses that which has always been a concern.

“So I’m really excited about him and I think he’ll be able to help us from the very beginning, particularly when we lose Jae (Crowder). We’ll need guys to eat up some of Jae’s minutes and I think Steve will be able to do that,” he added.

Durley is Marquette’s tallest recruit since the team inked Chris Otule in 2007. Ironically, the 6-foot-11 Durley now plays at Ft. Bend Bush High School in Texas, the same school Otule attended.

You can read up on Durley’s commitment here.

“He has a long way to go but he’ a really good kid and he understands the value of working,” Williams said. “And I think he’ll be a lot better when he arrives on campus than he is even today. He’s got to stay healthy of course. That’s probably what slowed his development more than anything. Not that he wasn’t a good player, it’s just that he got hurt. And sometimes in recruiting, when you’re out of sight you’re out of mind.”

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