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2016-17 Marquette Men’s Basketball Player Preview: #1 Duane Wilson

Somehow I completely blanked on the fact that the redshirt junior has the second most returning minutes....

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Marquette
I could stand to see a lot of Duane Wilson running back down court after a made three this season.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016-17 college basketball season is right around the corner, so let's get into the Marquette basketball roster and take a look at what to expect from each player this season. We'll be going through the players one by one: First the freshmen, moving on to the two transfer players, and then wrapping up with the returning players, going in order of average minutes played per game last season.

We’re going to organize our thoughts about the upcoming season as it relates to each player into categories:

  • Reasonable Expectations
  • Why You Should Get Excited
  • Potential Pitfalls

With that out of the way, we proceed with the penultimate chapter of our player previews.....

Duane Wilson

Redshirt Junior - #1 - Guard - 6’2” - 185 lb.

I have no idea what to make of Duane Wilson at this point.

On one hand, it’s clear that he’s the emotional center of the team. He’s the guy dapping up all the guys in the starting lineup every night, and everyone’s got their own individual routine with Wilson. He’s the guy literally in the center of the circle when the players huddle up after the starting lineup is introduced.

On the other hand, Wilson had what can easily be identified as a sophomore slump last season. After posting one of the best freshman campaigns in Marquette history on a relatively lousy team, Wilson was inconsistent at best as a sophomore. You could go so far as to say that he was objectively bad through the first month of the season. In MU’s 18 biggest games of the season, teams that KenPom considers as top 100 squads when compensating for location of the game, Wilson shot just 27% on three pointers while attempting more than four triples a game.

On Zaphod Beeblebrox’s third hand, Wilson played a team high 22 minutes in the exhibition game against Rockhurst while coming off the bench. He didn’t shoot much (2-4 overall, 0-1 from long range), but he did grab a team high six rebounds and dish four assists. Sure, those numbers might be a bit inflated by the nature of scoring 106 points against Rockhurst, but Wilson is not a notable rebounder on any level (averaging 2.5 both seasons). He also hasn’t earned a reputation as a distributor, although averaging a bit over two assists per game isn’t exactly awful, either.

Reasonable Expectations

At the end of the day, Wilson ended up averaging roughly 12/2/2/1 last season, and that’s actually pretty good, if you just isolate on that. The problem was that it was essentially the same thing he had done the year before that, which makes it seem like it’s not actually that good.

If Marquette’s going to play up tempo and make a lot of substitutions, that kind of stat line is probably unrealistic to expect from Wilson this season. His playing time is probably going to come down from the 28 minute neighborhood, and as a result his stats are probably going to take a bit of a dip, too. Last year was a bit of a disappointing plateau from his freshman year, and it’s entirely possible Wilson might dip a little bit from last year. While that doesn’t sound promising off the jump, but it stands to reason that Wilson can play his part for this team exactly perfectly under those scenarios.

One thing to keep an eye on is Wilson’s defense. He’s been ranked in the top 425 in the country in steal rate according to KenPom for both of his years, and that is something that should continue again this season. In fact, Wilson maintaining that level of takeaways might actually be important to this team. Anything that alleviates Marquette’s need to play half-court defense and thus exposing Luke Fischer to potential foul trouble is going to benefit in the long run.

Why You Should Get Excited

Part of Wilson’s backslide statistically last year was clearly the fact that he shot 22% on three pointers through the first six games of the season. After that, Wilson shot an incredible 39% on long balls. As a freshman, Wilson shot 44% on threes in MU’s most difficult games.

I honestly believe that these shooting numbers are the real Duane Wilson.

Stack Wilson up next to the cadre of three point shooters that are now on the MU roster, and all of a sudden, Wilson is just one in a lineup of guys who can knock it down. I believe that he can be one of the best three point shooters in the Big East this season when you combine his ability and the space that his teammates will help him get. He might not lead the team in scoring or anything like that, but if we get to a point where it starts to feel like a 50/50 proposition that Wilson’s long range attempts are going in, that’s going to be awfully fun to watch.

One other thing to watch: Wilson improved his two point shooting from freshman to sophomore year, going from 43% to 51%. I don’t think he’s got another eight points worth of jump in him. That would start sending him into Luke Fischer territory, and let’s be honest: It’s just easier for a seven footer to shoot and make two pointers than it is for a guy of Wilson’s size. The potential for excitement here lies in the idea of defenses needing to honor Wilson’s drive and shot. If he can finish at the rim at the same rate, or perhaps even a wee bit higher, then that’s just going to make MU’s offense more efficient overall.

Potential Pitfalls

I don’t really think we’re going to see regression from Wilson. I think he is what he is as a player at this level. Let’s be honest: if he was something more, we would have seen it last year. This is fine, by the way. 12 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal is a very healthy stat line and everyone should be proud to cheer for him along the way.

What I worry about with Wilson is that people are going get the impression that he’s not doing enough to help Marquette this season. The idea that he’s due a big bounce back after having a sophomore season that was perceived as lackluster is a reasonable idea to have, but I just don’t see Wilson having an explosive kind of season. Other guys have a bit of leeway in expectations: We don’t really know what to expect from the four new guys, Jajuan Johnson only really boosted his stock towards the end of last year, Luke Fischer’s offense is dependent on the other guys getting him the ball, and so on and so forth. That doesn’t really exist with Wilson, so I dread the idea of people complaining that he isn’t doing enough to help this team win. Nothing will be further from the truth.