The Scion Dental Milwaukee Pro-Am will kick off tomorrow night in Greenfield, marking the first time since the Golden Eagles were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament that they will take the court in a public setting.
Let’s jump right into everything you need to know about this year’s Pro-Am.
The NCAA allows for two returning players maximum to play on a team, so freshmen and incoming junior-college transfers are not included in the matchups. For a list of the full rosters, click here.
1. 540 ESPN: Todd Mayo, Deonte Burton
2. AthletiCo: John Dawson, Juan Anderson, Davante Gardner
3. Baird: Derrick Wilson, Jake Thomas
4. BrewCityBall.com: None
5. Gruber Law: None
6. IWB Sports: None
7. Scion Dental: Jajuan Johnson, Chris Otule
8. Warriors: Duane Wilson, Jamil Wilson, Jameel McKay
Top five storylines
When you get down to it, all Pro-Am events are glorified pick-up games that feature little defensive effort despite pretty intense competitiveness. There’s no use putting any stock into statistics, wins or highlight reels from the event, but there are still plenty of things to watch for over the next four weekends.
1. Juan Anderson’s move to the perimeter: Forgive the offseason, but it made news when Mark Miller tweeted that the 6-foot-6 junior would make a transition to the outside this upcoming season. It’s great news for him that he’s finally moving out of the painted area where he was bullied for two seasons. In order to make the full transition to a small forward-like role, he must prove his worth as an outside shooter. If he can show signs of life on 3-pointers and mid-range jumpers — maybe even a drive or two to the basket — it will be a good sign for him.
2. The Jake Thomas Show: In a series of games where defense is minimal, outside shooters are perhaps the biggest asset to any team. Even better for Thomas, he has Derrick Wilson to get him the ball early, often and on time. Thomas may not break the rotation this season with Jajuan Johnson and Duane Wilson entering the mix, but a solid showing from outside will be fun to watch.
3. Team Jami(ee)l: It’s more than just random assignment that pits Marquette players with Marquette players, so seeing Jamil Wilson and Jameel McKay as teammates could be an indicator of the way Buzz Williams is trying to play this season. We noted earlier in the offseason that Wilson likely will see time at small forward, paving the way for players such as McKay and Steve Taylor at power forward. The inside-out possibilities between these two are endless, and it will also be fun to watch cousins Jamil and Duane play together for the first time.
4. Todd Mayo’s time to shine: In some respect this summer has been the offseason of Todd Mayo. It’s great news we haven’t heard a peep from him and with Vander Blue out of the picture, the starting shooting-guard position is his to lose. He won’t win or lose the job with his Pro-Am performance, though the way he plays here may be a good indicator of what’s to come from the junior who must begin producing.
5. Start the Duane Wilson Hype Machine: Of the skills needed to produce in a Pro-Am, Duane Wilson may have every base covered. He excels in transition, passes on a dime and can hit from the outside. We’ve hyped up Wilson plenty this offseason and the next four weekends will do nothing to slow that down. The fact that he gets to play with Jamil Wilson and Jameel McKay only adds to the stellar performances we’re bound to see from the freshman. Just remember, if the bad outings don’t mean much than neither do the good ones.
Top five matchups
If there’s one thing that does occur at the Pro-Am, it’s players wanting to keep their pride when put in one-on-one situations. It’s a sure bet that, for the most part, Marquette players will guard Marquette players. And since that’s our primary focus over the next four weekends, here are the most intriguing match-ups you’ll see at the Pro-Am. (date and time of match-up).
1. Duane Wilson vs. Derrick Wilson (7/19, 7 p.m.): The most intriguing position battle this offseason is at point guard, and the two men fighting it out are the D. Wilsons. This matchup will be fun on both ends; Derrick is going to want to show Duane how things work at the Division I level, and while the two have already played against each other in closed settings, this is the first time they’ll show the public who’s boss. Will the freshman overshadow the now-upperclassman? Get your popcorn ready.
2. Todd Mayo vs. Jajuan Johnson (8/2, 8 p.m.): Recruit rankings and YouTube Theories aside, Jajuan Johnson seems to be the real deal as he enters his freshman season. Todd Mayo won’t go down without a fight, and there’s sure to be some healthy “bad blood” between these two Memphis natives. Johnson is gunning for Mayo’s spot, while Mayo has plenty to prove after last year’s all-but-wasted season.
3. Chris Otule vs. Davante Gardner (7/20, 11:30 a.m.): Marquette’s starting center did not play in last year’s Pro-Am to rest after knee surgery, and while he isn’t suited all that well for a Pro-Am pace, chances are he’ll want to compete against Gardner. After all, Gardner has said repeatedly that his mentor Otule has helped his progression more than anyone. With this being Otule’s last Pro-Am in a Marquette uniform, he’ll want to steal the show from the guy, Gardner, who usually does the show-stealing.
4. Deonte Burton vs. Wesley Matthews (7/19, 7:30 p.m.): A little bit of a cheat here using a seasoned NBA veteran in the matchups, but Burton’s position is as difficult to peg as anyone’s. Even Chris Otule told Paint Touches he has “no idea” what position Burton is; he’s an athlete, simple as that. So what better way to find out how the 6-foot-4 bulldozer plays than to pit him up against an NBA shooting guard with similar measurables? Assuming the two guard each other, this matchup will be incredibly fun to watch. Time to see if the top-40 recruit can live up to his billing.
5. Jameel McKay vs. Juan Anderson (7/13, 1 p.m.): The best matchup of the Pro-Am would have been McKay vs. Jamil Wilson, so instead we’ll take the next best “switchable” battle. Two of Marquette’s best pound-for-pound rebounders will duel, and while no rotation spots will be won or lost on this day, these two could be fighting for time when the fall season rolls around. Both players have a little inside-out game to boot, making this an intriguing matchup.