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Balanced 2013 class sets Marquette up for success

Marquette received all five national letters of intent from its 2013 commitments yesterday, marking the most heralded recruiting class in Buzz Williams’ five seasons as head coach.

The group is as balanced as any he’s had, and features three consensus top-100 players and a junior college All-American, made all the more impressive with both of Williams’ top assistants, Tony Benford and Aki Collins, accepting positions at North Texas and Memphis.

It was only fitting that the top player of the group, Duane Wilson, signed and sent his letter to Williams early in the morning and first of the group. Wilson, a 6-foot-3 combo guard from local Dominican H.S. in Milwaukee will provide Marquette a replacement for Junior Cadougan’s eventual departure, and his ability to play outside will help fill the void left by T.J. Taylor, who transferred from Marquette this summer.

“He is a very diligent worker in every facet of his life and has leadership qualities that are advanced for his age,” Williams said. “His maturity is immediately noticeable, whether you are talking to him or watching him play, and that will fit perfectly into our culture from day one. He represents what we want our student-athletes to be about and I am anxious to have the opportunity to be around him every day.” (Our story on Wilson)

Fellow Milwaukee commit, Deonte Burton, was Williams’ first commitment of the 2013 class, giving his pledge in September of last year. The 6-foot-5 wing is perhaps Marquette’s most athletic recruit of the last five seasons, and has seen his stock rise into the top-50 nationally thanks to an impressive AAU season.

Duane Wilson is one of three 2013 recruits from Milwaukee. (WBBY.com)

“Deonte was the first in this class to commit and I have a distinct memory of his family and coach in my office when it happened,” Williams said in a press release. “The love and support for Deonte by his parents and coach was as transparent as I had ever seen in that type of setting. His loyalty has been shown every day since then and I am humbled by that.” (Our story on Burton)

Williams has always attracted top-100 talent, and it appears his reputation and a recruiter and Marquette’s successes have been the tipping point for those players to commit. But Williams has also made a name as a recruiter for finding below-the-radar talent, and 6-foot-4 guard John Dawson certainly fits the bill.

One of the top-rated players in New Mexico, the true point guard is a player unlike one Williams has had at Marquette. He’s a bit of a project and may struggle to find playing time behind will-be junior Derrick Wilson and Duane Wilson, but Williams went hard after Dawson for a reason. His size is a plus, and his passing is his strong suit. Dawson is another potential gem of the class.

“Throughout our tenure here, we have been fortunate in finding guys off the beaten path who as their careers progressed, became integral parts of our program,” Williams said. “I believe John is the next in that group. Our relationship with him is the newest in the class, but because of who John is as a person, it all evolved very quickly.” (Our story on Dawson)

JaJuan Johnson is could start from Day 1. (Rivals.com)

With T.J. Taylor’s departure, 2012 marked the first recruiting class in which Williams did not secure a junior college transfer. He made up for it, however, in a big way by securing former Pulaski H.S. (Wis.) standout and junior college All-American Jameel McKay. The 6-foot-8 stretch-forward has quite the story, and he’s another piece to a frontcourt Williams has been improving at a significant pace. McKay is somewhat lean for the position, but his skill set speaks for itself, as his numbers at this stage in his career are better than Jae Crowder’s were as a junior college forward.

“If you follow our program at all, everyone knows that I cheer really hard for those who haven’t had a direct path to their goals,” Williams said. “Jameel is on that list and I love his story. I love his demeanor, and I am thankful he has made a decision to come here. He has been coached very hard and won at every level throughout his career.” (Our story on McKay)

While Benford and Collins blazed the recruiting trail hard before leaving, first-year assistant Isaac Chew made his mark by receiving a commitment from shooting guard Jajuan Johnson in October. The highly-publicized recruitment came down to Alabama and Marquette, but Chew and Williams’ weekly visits late in the process, and a successful official visit during Marquette Madness sealed the deal. The 6-foot-5 wing could start from Day 1 following Trent Lockett’s departure and the possibility Todd Mayo has played his last game with MU.

“JaJuan is quiet by nature, but very intelligent,” Williams said. “He comes from a basketball family and has been coached at a high level year-round throughout his career. He is able to absorb and execute coaching in an efficient manner. We welcome him with open arms and are excited about the player and teammate he will be.” (Our story on Johnson)

The 2013 class consists of a point guard in Dawson, a shooting guard in Johnson, a small forward in Burton, a power forward in McKay and a combo guard in Wilson. Williams’ balanced class one day could be the best in his five-year tenure, with multiple players — specifically Wilson, Johnson and McKay — seeing immediate playing time as freshmen.

Williams has a core class here that will combine with a team next year to form a potential Final Four group, and on its own a group that has as much talent for the Marquette staff to work with as its ever had.

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Recruiting

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