The short and long-term importance of the Marquette 2013 recruiting class

When Buzz Williams received a verbal commitment last Saturday from junior college freshman Jameel McKay, it marked the third recruit he had obtained from Milwaukee for the 2013 class.

More significant, it may triggered a transformation, both on the the court and on the recruiting trail, for the Marquette basketball program.

The Golden Eagles still have a season to play in 2012, when they are expected to compete for an eighth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, what with returning all but two players, albeit important ones, from a team that won 27 games and reached the Sweet 16.

But before the Milwaukee Pro-Am kicks off in the first week of July, the unofficial beginning of the upcoming season, it’s important to look at how Marquette’s 2013 recruiting class could affect the program in the near future.

Assuming the roster stays in tact (always dangerous), Marquette will return all but senior point guard Junior Cadougan to the 2013-’14 team. That includes an impressive will-be senior class, including forwards Jamil Wilson and Davante Gardner, redshirt center Chris Otule and guards Vander Blue and Jake Thomas.

With four seniors in the projected starting lineup, Marquette would already be in a position to contend for a Big East Championship. Add in will-be juniors Derrick Wilson, forward Juan Anderson, combo guard T.J. Taylor and Todd Mayo, and Marquette will have eight upperclassmen (nine including Thomas) expected to start or come in as first substitutions off the bench.

Milwaukee native Jamil Wilson will have Marquette in the driver’s seat in the Big East as senior. (Marquette Tribune)

Will-be sophomores Steve Taylor and Jamal Ferguson are unknowns at this point, but Steve could easily be in the mix for minutes, as well.

That’s where the entrance of the 2013 class makes the team’s potential exciting.

Beginning with point guard Duane Wilson, the  6-foot-3 junior has shot up the recruiting charts since he began his AAU season with Playground Elite. The super-quick Wilson will give Williams and Marquette the opportunity to play up-tempo, or slow the pace down with Derrick Wilson in the fold. Seniority may rule out to begin the season, with Derrick getting the starting nod, but Duane has the talent to play right away. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Duane ranked in the top-25 by scouting services by December.

Small forward Deonte Burton will find himself in a bit of a logjam in his freshman season. The top-50 recruit will enter the season behind Blue, Anderson and Ferguson, but his services will not be required right away because of it. Anything the 6-foot-5 slasher can bring to the table is house money for Williams.

But the most significant addition to the 2013 class is McKay. The 6-foot-8 power forward will be a junior in 2013, and will work himself into the rotation from the moment he steps on campus. Aside from his scoring prowess in the paint and out to 17-feet on the perimeter, McKay’s impressive rebounding skills will give Marquette four (4!) legitimate bigs on the team. Throw in skilled rebounding guards in Blue and Mayo, along with the potential of Steve Taylor, and the potential for 2013 skyrockets.

Williams has assembled six recruiting classes since he took over for Tom Crean in 2008. His 2013 class could very well end up being his best, while at the same time bringing back his most talented group of players for that season.

But while the addition of Milwaukee natives Wilson, Burton and McKay will help Marquette field one of the deepest rosters in the country next year, their commitments as local talent could be even more important.

The state of Wisconsin has produced, in the last six recruiting classes (’08-’13), 12 top-100 players, according to ESPN.com’s rankings.

Five of those 12, Jamil Wilson, Jeronne Maymon, Blue, Burton and Duane Wilson have played or still play for Marquette. Dwight Buycks, originally from Milwaukee, makes six. The other seven were Korie Lucious, Paul Jesperson, Sam Dekker, J.P. Tokoto, Bronson Koenig, Matt Thomas, Luke Fischer).

Recruiting Wisconsin, more specifically Milwaukee, is important to Williams. He has a stronghold on the South, and Isaac Chew will help in the Midwest, but the talent entering Wisconsin, along with the commits Williams is getting, could be program changers. The reasoning behind why these players wanted to stay close to home tells the story, as well.

Two years ago, Jamil Wilson said he left Oregon because he realized that everything he needed was at home in Milwaukee, which ultimately led to his transfer to Marquette.

McKay told Paint Touches one of the main reasons he considered Marquette for so long was because his friends and family could watch him play. That, and Marquette’s recent success, made his decision that much easier.

“Why go far (to play) when there’s an elite program right where I’m from?,” McKay said.

Blue, McKay and Wilson all voiced proximity to friends and family as a main reason each chose Marquette.

Aside from the local pull, these players often compete against each other in state tournaments and on the AAU circuit. Duane Wilson told Paint Touches he had played against Burton for years, and that the two formed a relationship over time that helped his decision.

McKay and Burton played together on the Terry Porter Elite AAU team, and have spoken to each other since the former committed to Marquette last Saturday.

Even Jake Thomas remembered vividly his high school games against fellow Racine native Jamil Wilson. The two spoke at length while Thomas was making his decision to leave South Dakota and attend Marquette.

Duane Wilson is one of three 2013 recruits from Milwaukee. It could start a domino effect of local talent staying close to home. (WBBY.com)

When Burton committed to Marquette, he told Wisconsin Sports Networks’ Mark Miller that: “Milwaukee also needs a change in the sense of having somebody to look up to. Being from Milwaukee and playing at Marquette, I hope I can be that kind of person for the young players in the city.”

While Burton may not have been speaking in terms of recruiting players to Marquette as much as he was being a role model in the city, Wilson and McKay did follow his lead in committing to play for the Golden Eagles.

Wisconsin will never have the hotbed of recruits as a New York, Illinois or Indiana, Williams’ commitment to recruit the state, more specifically Milwaukee, could pay large dividends in the next few recruiting classes.

At the top of that list is 2015 center Diamond Stone, current teammate of Duane Wilson at Dominican High School. Currently ranked as the third overall prospect for his class on ESPN.com, the 6-foot-8 Stone has offers from Marquette and Wisconsin, and in the coming years is sure to offers from the many, if not all of the blueblood programs in the country.

Wilson told Paint Touches that he and Stone are very close friends. The two work out and hang out together, and Wilson even referred to him as his “big brother.” By the time Stone ultimately makes his decision on where to attend school, Wilson will have played one season under Williams and Marquette, and should be just as big a recruiter to Stone as Williams, Brad Autry or Isaac Chew.

Marquette’s recent string of local commits may also sway 2014 recruit Kevon Looney’s decision. Ranked as the 17th best prospect in the country by ESPN.com, the 6-foot-7 wing has offers from Marquette, Wisconsin, Georgetown and Tennessee, according to ESPN.com. Rivals.com lists Illinois, Kansas and Missouri as other schools that have offered him.

It’s not far-fetched to think a player such as Looney will make his college decision, in-part, by seeing other local talent succeeding under Williams.

And while these types of recruits seemed like pipe dreams in years past, the success Marquette is set up to have in the near future, combined with Milwaukee talent succeeding under Williams inches that dream closer to reality.

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason, Recruiting

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One Comment on “The short and long-term importance of the Marquette 2013 recruiting class”

  1. June 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    Great post. I really think there is something to be said for recruiting players from Wisconsin and especially Milwaukee. That ‘neighborhood school’ feel can foster a better basketball culture and environment.

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