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Player review: Jamil Wilson

(Photo by A. Martina Ibanez-Baldor)

(Photo by A. Martina Ibanez-Baldor)

What he did well: After showing some signs of life in his first season with Marquette–he sat out the 2010-11 season after transferring from Oregon–Wilson was expected to be one of Marquette’s breakout players following the departures of Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder. That didn’t happen entirely for the 6-foot-7 Wilson, but more strides were taken as the season went along, especially in the final two months, that helped Marquette to the Elite Eight. Without Wilson, Marquette isn’t playing during the second weekend.

His biggest transformation was from beyond the arc. It’s not often that a player increases his attempts by 71 (29 to 100) and shoots better from the field. But that’s what Wilson did, shooting 36 percent from the field last year, up from 34.5 percent a year ago. He was deadly from the top of the key, hitting 14-of-31 3-point attempts (45.6 percent) and made the transition of “trailer” from Jae Crowder to him all the more smooth in the offense.

Wilson was also a lethal post presence…when he was actually there. Though he played almost exclusively on the perimeter in most half-court sets, Wilson was 12-of-20 in post-up situations, scoring 28 points on 23 possessions, per Synergy. That 1.217 PPP mark ranked in the 98th percentile for all players, and second in the Big East to Tom Knight (1.3 PPP).

Wilson, as expected, was an above-average defender, though his block and steal rates were both down from a year ago. The biggest jump he made was on the defensive glass, where he grabbed 15.6 percent of available misses, compared to 10.8 last year. Overall Wilson was Marquette’s most versatile defender and that will serve him well heading into next season.

What he could have done better: Expectations were a bit high two seasons ago when Wilson took the court for the first time, but last year those same expectations were justified. He had the talent, the basketball IQ and the size to be a real threat for Buzz Williams. And it didn’t happen. 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench are nothing to scoff at, but they aren’t blowing anyone away. Williams, per usual, stood behind Wilson and said he was more efficient coming off the bench, but the reasoning was really that Wilson simply wasn’t playing well enough to start.

And while the aforementioned defensive rebounding rate was up from a year ago, 4.7 rebounds for a player of his caliber isn’t good enough. The story with the Racine native has always been whether or not he has that killer instinct on a given night, and most times he wasn’t aggressive enough on the glass. Hopefully another year of workouts and training will make him a player who averages closer to seven rebounds per game instead of five.

And we still haven’t seen Wilson really put the ball on the floor and attack the basket. At this point he scores three different ways: trailing for a 3-pointer; waiting on the wing for spot-up jumpers; and post moves inside. That’s fine for Marquette, but next year he’ll need to diversify his game so he can take over instead of just contribute. Maybe it won’t be a dribble-drive move, but it needs to be something more than just scoring…it needs to be creating.

Best performance: No one was hotter during the NCAA Tournament–Vander Blue was just as hot–than Wilson, and he saved his best performance of the season for a Sweet 16 matchup with Miami. Even without 305-pound center Reggie Johnson, the Hurricanes’ interior was expected to be a real problem for the Golden Eagles’ small(er) frontcourt.

Wilson made sure that wasn’t the case. His three blocks were a season-high and his eight rebounds were one off his season-best, and he also added 16 points with some cold-blooded 3-point shooting in the first half. Williams’ decision to play overly aggressive on guards Shane Larkin and Durand Scott in pick-and-roll actions was only available because Wilson (and Trent Lockett) was waiting on the wings to deflect or steal passes. It was his best game of the year, as he also added two assists and just one turnover in 33 minutes.

Worst performance: Wilson is quick to admit that his performance against Butler in Maui was his worst performance of the season and, arguably, the worst individual performance all season. We documented his game here, and lucky for him he got his redemption in Marquette’s third-round win over the Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament. In that game Wilson had 13 points and five rebounds, much better than the zero-point, three-rebound, four-foul effort he had in Maui.

2013-14 outlook: Many thought last year’s team was Wilson’s to lead, but it turned out to be Blue who did the leading, both on and off the court. But Blue is out, leaving Wilson as the player who must step up and become even more of a vocal leader and, maybe more important, produce as the go-to player on both ends of the floor.

We love his smile and friendly attitude as much as anyone, but in the final two months of the last season we saw a different Jamil. He was animated, energetic and subsequently put up impressive numbers. He enters his senior season with as much momentum as anyone–so much that he considered testing the NBA waters earlier this month–and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his name on 2014 NBA draft boards as his season progresses.

He has the 3-point shot down, is as athletic as anyone in the country and is beginning to play with a fiery passion for the game. That’s a near-impossible skill set to guard, and one that may lead Marquette deep into March if he can put it all together.

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Categories: 2012-13 Review, Analysis, Home, Player Review

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