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2015-16 Marquette Basketball Player Preview: #1 Duane Wilson

We're getting close to the end of the previews now.....

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015-16 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, starting with the freshmen, moving on to the lone available transfer, and then wrapping up with the four returning players, going in order of average minutes played per game last season.

Last year, we made a slight adjustment as to how we look at the players' upcoming season, and it seemed to work better, so we'll stick with the same three category headings this year:

What I Think We'll See
What I Want To See
What I Don't Want To See

With that out of the way, let's dig into the guy who was one of the best freshmen in Marquette history....

Duane Wilson

Redshirt Sophomore - #1 - Guard - 6'2" - 185 lb.

I'm not kidding about that "one of the best" thing.  We talked about it in his review last season after pointing it out right before the Big East tournament.  When you land in that many statistical top 10s in Marquette freshmen history, you can't call it anything but one of the best.  I can't even really blame him for not ending up in more top 10s.  Here's the list of the top 10s Wilson didn't make it into:

  • Shooting Percentage
  • 3 Point Shooting Percentage
  • Rebounds
  • Rebounding Average
  • Blocks

The dude's 6'2"!  I'm not going to holler at him for not being better than Marquette legend Jim McIllvaine at rebounding as a freshman.  Maaaaaaaybe you can holler about not having 15 blocks to get into the top 10, because that's really only one every other game, but I'm not that worried about it.  Other than that, we're just ending up kvetching about his shooting percentages, which, to be honest, isn't even that big of a deal.

Wilson finished the season as a 35.5% three point shooter, which converts to an eFG% of 53.2%.  Totally fine.  He ended up missing the top 10 in that category by a mere one-tenth of a percentage point, as 10th place is occupied by Odartey Blankson.  (Aside: Oh, man, remember ODB?)  Blankson also only shot 45 three-pointers that year, and the minimum is 40 to get on the list.  Wilson shot 138.

If you want to get picky, we could probably get picky about Wilson's overall shooting percentage.  He topped out at 39.4% on the season, which is nowhere near the top 10.  He also shot the ball 307 times, which is more than seven of the guys in the top 10.  The top 10 is also dominated by guys like Bo Ellis, Trevor Powell, Damon Key, and Tom Copa, who, y'know, had a little bit of a height advantage on Wilson and tended to play a little closer to the basket on offense.

What I Think We'll See

Honestly, I think we'll see Duane wipe those minor issues away this season.  Marquette played 12 games last year against teams that finished in the KenPom top 50.  In those games, Wilson shot better than he did against the full slate, recording an eFG of over 51%.  His assist rate was also up (20.9 vs 17.2 against the whole schedule) in those games.  What I'm seeing is a trend where against the best opponents on the schedule, Wilson shot the ball better than ever and distributed the ball better than ever.

Why is this important?  Well, Marquette's going to play a bunch of top teams again this year, just by nature of being in the Big East as well as the higher profile non-conference games on the slate.  If Wilson's raising his game in big moments, PLUS having a natural progression in his game from freshman to sophomore year, PLUS having to do less because he has better teammates this year than last year.... well, that just spells wonderful things for everyone involved.

What I Want To See

In the Jajuan Johnson preview, I pointed out that CBS's Matt Norlander said that Johnson could end up Second Team all-Big East.  What I glossed over in that article for obvious reason was that he also said that Wilson could do that.

That seems like undershooting it.

Wilson finished tied for 16th in scoring in the Big East last season.  Eight of the guys in front of him have left the league.  This doesn't automatically make him one of the eight or 10 best players in the league, as the preseason all-conference teams clearly pointed out.  But Wilson can't be that far behind them.  Get a bit more efficient, hit shots at a better rate, cut down on turnovers, raise assists a little bit, these are all things that I think Wilson's going to do anyway.

I think Wilson's natural progression is going to put him into the conversation for that Second Team all-Big East nod at the end of the year.  If he has a really big jump?  We're looking at making a serious argument for First Team, as well as a serious argument for two Golden Eagles on the Big East First Team since Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder did it.

What I Don't Want To See

There is a chance that Wilson could get lost in the shuffle.

It's no secret that Henry Ellenson is going to be the feature point of this team, and if you missed the memo on that, Ellenson made it very clear with his 16/17/5/2/1 line on Monday night's exhibition.  Luke Fischer's going to be a bigger deal this season with a healthy shoulder.  There's a bunch of freshmen out there waiting to make a good impression on Steve Wojciechowski.  There's two other returning guys who are looking to make a name for themselves.

Maybe Wilson just gets relegated to role player as Marquette's restocked talent closet explodes open with guys who need to be on the court.  If that happens, if guys are surpassing Wilson on the depth chart, then maybe that's not a terrible thing for Marquette.  But if Wilson just doesn't make a progression from his stellar freshman campaign, if he's just repeating the same thing again, or if, basketball gods forbid, Wilson takes a step backwards and Wojo has to look in a different direction to find a spark without anyone stepping forward and claiming Wilson's spot, well, that could quickly turn into The Darkest Timeline.