Duane Wilson had two options.
The 6-foot-3 point guard could have coasted through his final spring before arriving at Marquette and played catch-up once offseason workouts and individuals begin. Or, he could have set up seven-day-a-week workouts, finding himself in the gym and weight room more often than not to begin his collegiate career on the run.
Guess which one he chose?
Receiving on-court tutelage from Mike Lee—the trainer who worked with Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom before the NBA draft—Wilson does ball-handling work and takes reps as the point guard in pick-and-roll action multiple times per week, all in an attempt to get an early feel for collegiate work levels.
“There’s no going through drills or motions,” Wilson said of the workouts. “You go full speed because that’s how it is in college practices. It’s a lot of repetition, but as you keep going it’s like practice. When you go down there in June (to Marquette), I better do this stuff.”
He also works out in the gym to improve his vertical leap and add muscle to his 180-pound frame. It’s always a safe bet to get a head start on what strength and conditioning coach Todd Smith will have waiting once the summer period begins. But when his daily workouts with Lee and Becker are over, Wilson’s self-motivation takes over.
Whenever he isn’t on his schedule, Wilson finds himself in the gym, sometimes by himself getting up 500 pull-up jumpers and 500 3-pointers a day. Other times he brings alone teammates, both present and future, including Dominican H.S. center Diamond Stone and fellow 2013 incoming recruits Deonte Burton and Jameel McKay, both Milwaukee natives. And on weekends he finds him to work out with his old AAU Team, Playground Elite, as both tutor and player.
It’s quite a rigorous schedule for a player who enjoyed as successful a senior season as he could have dreamed, leading Dominican H.S. to a second straight state title, a 24-4 overall record and an all-area first-team selection.
He averaged 24.8 points, 5.3 assists and 5.6 rebounds and even turned in a triple-double in a win over Catholic Central. Those numbers and impressive skill set should serve him well in seeing immediate playing time for Marquette.
And since Junior Cadougan is gone, one of the most pressing offseason questions is who will replace him in the lineup. The early favorite is junior Derrick Wilson, who Buzz Williams said early last season deserved to start, but the accolades and skill set Duane brings could push Derrick for minutes.
But don’t expect that to be a personal issue between the two. Derrick hosted Duane on the high school senior’s official visit to campus, joining Duane on his tour of the Marquette campus and practice facilities. Derrick’s openness helped convince Duane he was right at home in Milwaukee.
“He’s real cool, gives me pointers,” Duane said of Derrick. “He’ll text me and sees if I need anything on and off the court. So that’s why I wanted to come. It was a brotherhood and a family.
“I do care about playing time and scoring, but I just want to win and make a run in the NCAA Tournament. Whether it’s me, Derrick or [incoming freshman] John [Dawson], it doesn’t matter who starts the game; it’s who wins the game.”
Wilson improved on his 3-point shooting—he made an unimaginable 55 percent from beyond the arc—his defense and ability to drive to the basket with his left hand. More important, though, is Wilson’s film study. Along with watching NBA point guards—specifically Derrick Rose—Wilson turned a new eye to his watching Marquette, where he’ll arrive for the second summer session.
He caught Marquette’s entire run to the Elite 8 on television, and said he looked at how he can perform within the offense, how the team rotates defensively and how Williams substitutes early and often.
“I like everything they do,” he said.
The rest of Marquette’s nationally-ranked recruiting liked what they saw, too. Wilson said he and the rest of the recruiting class texted each other during the NCAA Tournament, saying it “made us hungry” and that “we can’t wait to get on the floor.”
It wouldn’t be a true Duane Wilson update without checking in on fellow prospects he’s recruiting to Marquette. After all, he plays with Burton and McKay in open gyms and is close friends with old roommate Jajuan Johnson.
But the name that will be associated with Wilson for the next two seasons is Diamond Stone, the 2015 recruit who ranked in the top-5 in his class on most service’s websites. Stone took in a handful of Marquette games this past season and the Golden Eagles are actively recruiting him.
“It’s almost like blood with Diamond,” Wilson said, “like we’re in the same family. He’s with me every day. After school he comes to my house, in the gym. There’s not too many times you’re gonna see me and Diamond not together.”
Wilson said his Dominican teammate isn’t close to a decision, but that he has inquired about why Wilson chose Marquette over other schools.
“I try to not talk to him as much about Marquette,” Wilson said. “He knows I want him to come to Marquette, but a lot of people will bug him about it.
“He always asks me about colleges, and I just let him know we’ll still be friends wherever you go. Just go where you feel comfortable.”
But Stone isn’t the only ranked recruit Wilson has talked to about Marquette.
2014 shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, ranked No. 6 by Rivals.com, recently joined Playground Elite, Wilson’s old AAU team and the one his father runs.
Those weekend visits Wilson makes to open gyms have included one-on-one scrimmages against Vaughn, who Marquette recently visited. Wilson has known Vaughn, currently playing high school ball in Minnesota, since fourth grade.
“We have a tight relationship,” Wilson said of Vaughn. “He’ll be down here (in Milwaukee) a lot and I’m gonna try and get him to Marquette Madness. He’ll be hanging with me, so he’ll be around Marquette a lot.”
With apologies to Buzz and assistant Isaac Chew, Wilson could wind up being Marquette’s best recruiter the next two years.