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2014-15 Marquette Basketball Player Review: #1 Duane Wilson

And now, a review to be truly excited about.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2014-2015 season now in the books, we take a moment to look back at the performance that each member of YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles this year. While we're at it, we'll also take a look back at our player previews and see how our preseason prognostications stack up with how things actually played out. We'll run through roster in order of total minutes played (lowest to highest).  Next up for today is Marquette's very own silver lining.

Duane Wilson

#1 - Redshirt Freshman - 6'2" - 185 lb.

Games Min FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% OReb DReb Reb Ast Stl Blk Fouls Pts
32 28.1 3.8 9.6 .394 1.5 4.3 .355 2.8 3.9 .712 0.4 2.0 2.4 2.1 1.2 0.3 2.5 11.9

Fancy Math via KenPom
ORtg %Poss %Shots eFG% TS% OR% DR% ARate TORate Blk% Stl% FC/40 FD/40 FTRate
98.7 24.5 25.9 47.4 51.9 1.8 8.4 17.2 16.6 1.0 2.6 3.5 4.8 40.7

What We Said:

What I Think We'll See

Reports coming out of the McGuire Center indicate that head coach Steve Wojciechowski is just going to be playing guards on the floor.  This benefits Wilson.  Instead of having to figure where he slots into a rotation in, around, or behind Derrick Wilson and Matt Carlino, it's possible that Wilson will make appearances on the court with each one at varying points, not to mention stints along side both of them at once, or even a lineup with Wilson, Jajuan Johnson, and John Dawson.

I went rummaging around the internet for a mention of Wilson's three point shooting in high school, because while I could say "he was good at it," it helps to have something to link to as proof.  I found this article about the Journal Sentinel's 2012-13 all-area team which named Wilson Player of the Year and contains his stats from distance during his senior season (55-100, 55%), but also included this line:

And he played with a style that reminded Milwaukee Washington coach Freddie Riley of a New York City point guard.

Well.  Marquette certainly has a history with guards from New York City.  That would be a welcome sight to see.

The point I wanted to make about that article was about Wilson's three point shooting.  He was GREAT at shooting in high school.  55% is NUTSO.  Yes, the distance is longer in college.  Yes, Wilson played for Whitefish Bay (WI) Dominican, who competed in Wisconsin's Division 4, meaning they were a smaller school than a wide majority of the state, so the pool of possible players that they competed against was much smaller.  But with Wilson and Diamond Stone on the roster, Dominican challenged themselves in non-conference action, too: Wilson shot 6 of 9 against Division 2 Washington, and scored at least 30 points in games against D1 Vincent and eventual Division 1 champion Germantown, which featured noted Marquette transfer Luke Fischer.  Yeah, Dominican lost both of those games badly.  But they couldn't stop Wilson.

What I Want To See

Well, I suppose it starts with that throwback to the great guards of the Al McGuire era, but that would heap expectations onto Wilson's back that he doesn't deserve before he plays a game in blue and gold.  Let's adjust backwards then.  I want to see an electrifying guard that is dynamic and can attack the basket in multiple ways on the court.  If Wilson can translate his high school shooting to the collegiate level, not to mention take advantage of the shooting regimen that assistant coach Brett Nelson advocated, then Wilson could provide a dynamic to this Marquette team that has been woefully missing over the past two seasons.  Please?  I like good three point shooters.

What I Don't Want To See

I saw Wilson play his senior year of high school.  It was an away game against St. Thomas More, and I apparently picked the worst possible game to watch.  Perhaps because of a overall mismatch between the two squads, perhaps because of specific player mismatches, but Wilson had a pretty quiet game.  One thing that was immediately obvious to me in that game was Wilson largely playing off the ball and Dominican not running any kind of plays for Wilson.  I don't mean "he didn't get the ball in plays," I mean Wilson floated around the three point arc and just kind of stood around most of the time.

It was a lackluster performance that ended early.  Wilson was ejected from the game after receiving two technical fouls, both for needlessly pulling on the rim.  Dominican ended up pulling away in the fourth quarter thanks to the play of Diamond Stone, but from the perspective of watching a guy who was already signed to play at Marquette, it was a disappointing trip to Thomas More's gym.

Now, both plays probably could have been complete accidents, and maybe the referees could have allowed a little leeway to keep one of the best players in the state in the game, but according to the rules, they were justifiable calls.  What I'm saying here is this: I don't want to find out that I'm a massive curse on Duane Wilson's ability to play basketball at a high level.

No one's going to confuse what happened to Marquette in Steve Wojciechowski's first season for something great.  It was rough sledding in a lot of places: the win-loss column, injuries, transfers, etc.

But.  Just because it was kind of a lousy season all around, it doesn't mean that there wasn't something to get excited about.  That something manifested itself in a #1 blue & gold jersey, and his name is Duane Wilson.

The 2013-14 season was lost to Wilson due to a stress fracture in his leg, but he made up for it in 2014-15.  The question mark hanging on him was two-fold: 1) Can he play ball at the college level and 2) is that stress fracture injury going to end up robbing him of the ability to play ball at this level?

#1 is a resounding yes, and obviously #2 is a resounding no.  What we got from Wilson was, quite simply, one of the greatest freshman campaigns in Marquette basketball history.  Starting with a six point, two rebound, four assist effort off the bench agains Tennessee-Martin, Wilson launched himself into the starting lineup in Marquette's fourth game of the season, and he never looked back.  After MU's 32 game slate came to an end in the Big East quarterfinals against Villanova, here's what Wilson did to the Marquette freshman season record book:

  • 4th in points
  • 6th in scoring average
  • 8th in field goals made
  • 5th in field goals attempted
  • 4th in 3 pointers made
  • 3rd in 3 pointers attempted
  • 1st in free throws made
  • 2nd in free throws attempted
  • 8th in free throw percentage
  • 10th in assists
  • 7th in steals

The list of gentlemen that he trails in those categories is truly a who's who of Marquette basketball history.  In no particular order: Dominic James, Doc Rivers, Damon Key, Bo Ellis, Russ Wittberger, Trevor Powell, Jerel McNeal, Travis Diener, Steve Novak, Robb Logterman, Brian Wardle, Tony Miller, Cordell Henry, Mark Anglavar, Michael Wilson, Tony Smith.  I mean, read that list again.  Duane Wilson spent this season inserting himself into Marquette history amongst all of them.

And let's remember: he did all of this on a not good team that was shorthanded for part of the season and badly shorthanded for a lot of the season.  Wilson was a focal point for opposing defenses all season long, and with few other truly reliable options out there on the floor, he still found a way to play his way into an iconic season long performance.

Not to say that there weren't rough patches for Wilson, of course.  There was a 4 point outing against North Dakota.  Or a five turnover outing in Philadelphia against Villanova.  And even an 0-6 shooting night in 15 minutes against DePaul in the home finale.  But I'm willing to chalk this stuff up as mere freshman growing pains.  It seems clear to me that the future is pretty bright for young Mr. Wilson.

Best Game: Well, I think there's three candidates from during Big East play, but they all have one thing in common besides great play from Duane Wilson: Marquette lost all three of them.  Thus, I have to turn my attention to Duane's coming out party: against Tennessee in MU's Orlando Classic final, the Milwaukee native posted 30 points on 9-17 shooting, including bombing away from behind the arc to hit five of his nine attempts from distance.  Wilson also chipped in four rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 31 minutes as the Golden Eagles defeated the Volunteers, 67-59.

Season Grade, on a scale of 1 to 10: Duane Wilson finished the year as MU's second best three point shooter, and that's no knock with Matt Carlino burying triples at an unheard of rate for him.  Even with all that jump shooting, he still ended up as the only guy on the team to shoot more than 95 free throws, which means that either defenders were really stupid and fouling a jump shooter or he was attacking the rim with ferocity.

So, we've got Wilson being a multidimensional attacker helping guide Marquette to their best three point shooting effort in the last four seasons as well as getting to the line more often than anyone on the team (or all but one freshman ever).  He started 29 of Marquette's 32 games, and he spent most of the season playing alongside both Matt Carlino and Derrick Wilson.  I made it to all but two of Marquette's home games, but made up for that by attending the roadie at DePaul, and Wilson performed admirably with me in the building.

What I see is Wilson living up to the ideas for him that we had before the season started for the most part.  I don't think anyone could have expected him to hit 55% of his threes in college, so I'm not going to hold "only" shooting 36% against him.  Sure, he had off nights.  No problem there, but off nights mean we can't go full bore crazy with the grade, even if it was one of the best freshman outings that we've ever seen.  I give Duane a 7 for 2014-15, and I look forward to see how he can expand his game next season.