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Backup Small Forward Minutes Jumbled

Tribune file photo

Tribune File Photo

Many expected redshirt sophomore forward Jamil Wilson to lockdown a starting spot for the No. 16/16 Marquette Golden Eagles (6-0).

With the departure of Jimmy Butler, Wilson fit the same build and mold that Butler had exemplified during his three years as a Golden Eagle.

It hasn’t worked out that way thus far for Wilson with sophomore guard Vander Blue locking down the “small forward” position in Williams’ starting five.

Blue has yet to play less than 19 minutes in a game this season and entered Monday night’s contest as one of three Golden Eagles averaging double-digit points.

His contributions are felt all over the court as demonstrated with his stat line Monday: three points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals.

He is one of Marquette’s best defenders and has shown strong abilities in the open court.

But behind Blue is the unknown.

Wilson and sophomore forward Jamail Jones have each shown glimpses of why they should play major minutes for Marquette – Jones showing offensive potential and Wilson demonstrating defensive skills that Williams loves.

On the year Wilson has logged 96 minutes and Jones 58. But Jones has played more minutes than Wilson in two of Marquette’s six contests despite the 38 minute differential.

Wilson had a career-high, in a Marquette uniform, with six points (3-of-8 from the field) against Jacksonville Monday and looked more confident on the offensive end.

Senior forward Jae Crowder said Wilson just needed to get more experience in Marquette’s system.

“A lot of people expected him to hit the ground running coming from Oregon, me included. Just him getting his feet wet, him getting comfortable, as you can see has changed his way of playing. I can see him progressing as the season goes on,” Crowder said.

But what of his potential for this season based upon his slow start?

“It’s no telling. He’s capable of being a double-double type guy. The way he can rebound. His athleticism. The things he does on the on the offensive end, I think he can be a double-double type guy,” Crowder said.

And beyond those two is freshman forward Juan Anderson. Anderson was suspended for three games after accepting tickets for a Milwaukee Brewers postseason game and missed practices nine through 18 with a foot injury.

Since being reinstated against Ole Miss, Anderson has logged seven minutes of game time, five on Monday.

“Juan plays (five) minutes and he’s on the floor more than the other 10 guys combined in the first 36 minutes of the game. He has no idea what he’s doing. But everybody thinks he knows what he’s doing because he plays so hard,” Williams said. “I think that’s the hardest lesson in life to understand. That’s good for Juan that he’s already figured it out.”

But Anderson missed nine of Marquette’s first 18 practices and missed the first three games of the season. Williams said Anderson is the unquestioned 11th man on the bench.

“I told him as soon as we walked into the locker room ‘I’m not mad at (you),’” Williams said. “I’m the most loyal cat you’ll ever find because of how I grew up. I’m extremely loyal to Juan. But not at the expense of removing my loyalty towards those other 10 kids.”

To overtake a player like Jones or Wilson on Marquette’s hierarchy, Williams said Anderson must play like he did on Monday.

“Juan played (five) minutes and was on the floor three or four times. He jumps out of bounds. He dives for the ball. He’s getting rebounds. He gets fouled. I just think he’s a hard working player,” freshman guard Todd Mayo said.

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