2013-2014 Player Preview: #23 Jake Thomas

USA TODAY Sports

Onwards into the returning players we continue with the first of Marquette's four seniors.

Oh, man, what to say about Jake Thomas.

Thomas didn't have a great 2012-2013 season. Based on how much he played late in the year, he was unfairly pressed into service when Todd Mayo was suspended before the season started, and he didn't do a lot to win hearts and minds when he was out there. Yes, there was the fantastic and-1 put back against Butler in the Maui Invitational, and there was the absurd four point play against Syracuse. But other that, Thomas was a just a guy, and not a particularly stellar guy.

Unless you want to judge his season based on how many times the Bradley Center crowd made an audible disappointed exhale every time he missed a three point shot, then in that case, he was AWESOME, because it happened A LOT.

We enter 2013-2014 with a weakened back court following the departures of Junior Cadougan, Vander Blue, and Trent Lockett, and lest we forget, that list almost included Jake Thomas. He severed ties with Marquette for a whole 15 days back in April before being followed out the door by Jamal Ferguson, Vander Blue, and Juan Anderson, but was welcomed back with open arms by head coach Buzz Williams. In fact, not only were those arms open, but Buzz went so far as to say at the yearly summer barbecue event that Thomas will play a lot in the upcoming season.

Well, okay then. Last year, debate raged over exactly how much Thomas would play for Marquette. As a result, instead of a full preview, we went with a poll over how much he would play. If you judge him on the full season, he exceeded expectations. If you only look at the team after Mayo returned, he badly missed the very meager mark we had set for him. But, if Buzz says he's going to be a big contributor, then we have to go with the full preview this time around.

Minimum Expectation: Jake Thomas came to Marquette with a reputation as a dead-eye three point shooter, having posted yearly marks of .441 his freshman year and .347 his sophomore year at South Dakota. He shot .278 from distance for Marquette last year. For comparison purposes: Vander Blue hit on a better percentage of his shots. So the minimum is this: Shoot 33% from the arc. That mark (or Flying Spaghetti Monster help us, something better) will help Marquette find some spacing on the floor for the frontcourt guys to get some room to operate.

Wildest Dream: He never plays and I don't have to listen to the disappointed exhales. Thomas turns into a prolific shooter and is reasonably competent on the defensive end, letting Buzz rotate Mayo and Thomas at will and letting JaJuan Johnson develop at his own pace.

Worst Nightmare: Thomas doesn't find his shooting touch, but due to Todd Mayo doing Todd Mayo Things and Johnson struggling to adapt to Division 1 basketball, Buzz is forced to rely on Thomas for long stretches of the season that will assuredly feel even longer than they actually are.

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