The Marquette Golden Eagles lost two players to transfer, two players to graduation and one to the NBA following an Elite Eight appearance in the 2013 NCAA tournament. Two others flirted with leaving the school, as Jake Thomas originally stated his intent to transfer, while Chris Otule was granted a sixth season for his collegiate career.
Buzz Williams brings in his best recruiting class in the five seasons he has served as the head coach at Marquette, bringing in four players from the class of 2013, as well as junior college transfer Jameel McKay.
McKay comes to Marquette following junior college studs Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, all of whom were drafted in the NBA. Though Vander Blue's decision to pursue the NBA after his junior season may be a shaky one, expect Marquette to make a fourth straight Sweet 16 and be the preseason favorite to win the new Big East in 2013-14.
Junior Cadougan spent four seasons playing for Buzz Williams at Marquette and was a part of three Sweet 16 teams, one of which made the Elite Eight. What Cadougan lacked in talent, he made up for in effort. Cadougan was a steady ball-handler and defender who will be most remembered for his buzzer-beating three-pointer against UConn on New Year's Day 2013.
Trent Lockett's stay in Milwaukee was much shorter, as he transferred to Marquette following three solid seasons at Arizona State. Lockett finally made the NCAA tournament this year, where he shined and made plays no one knew he could make, including putback dunks. Lockett's senior day was a tearful one, as he transferred to Marquette to be closer to his mother, who has cancer and lives in Minnesota.
Juan Anderson was limited as a freshman, but made big strides as a true sophomore by becoming the team's starting power forward the year after Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder claimed that spot. Anderson's statistics didn't give the full picture of his game. Highly recruited out of high school, Anderson will leave to be closer to his home in California, likely playing for a Pac-12 or Mountain West team.
Jamal Ferguson was never really given a shot during his lone season as a Golden Eagle. Ferguson, who like Davante Gardner hails from Virginia, was the lone player other than walk-on Dylan Flood who was never really in Buzz Williams' deep rotation. With a deep and talented recruiting class coming in this season, Ferguson realized his minutes would be tough to come by.
Vander Blue's first two seasons at Marquette were perplexing. Sure, he was playing alongside NBA draftees Jimmy Butler, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder during those seasons, though he only showed flashes of greatness.
Blue came to Marquette from Madison, the last Golden Eagle doing the same being Wesley Matthews of the Portland Trail Blazers. Blue decommitted from Bo Ryan and his hometown Badgers to play under Buzz Williams, playing for three successful seasons.
Following a deep NCAA tournament run that contained exciting victories over Davidson, Butler and Miami before bowing out to Syracuse, Blue decided to forego his final season and shoot for the greener pastures of the NBA. Blue's stock may never be higher, and he became a star overnight during March Madness, putting up Dwyane Wade-like numbers. Blue is currently projected as a second-round pick.
Jameel McKay committed to Marquette last June and played two seasons at Indian Hills Community College, where he was a two-time All-American. The 6'8" power forward was a hot commodity, also receiving offers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Memphis and Missouri.
Buzz Williams has been the best in the business at finding junior college players, as Jimmy Butler, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder all played JUCO ball before becoming Golden Eagles. In fact, Crowder played two years before coming to Marquette, just like McKay.
McKay looks to become the team's starting power forward in what is now a loaded Golden Eagles frontcourt, beside the likes of Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, Jamil Wilson and Steve Taylor Jr. McKay could continue Williams' legacy of finding elite junior college talent.
The remaining four members of Marquette's recruiting class come from the high school ranks. First, the point guard from New Mexico, John Dawson. The 6'2" ball-handler chose the Golden Eagles over five West Coast mid-majors to come to the Midwest and play in the new Big East.
Deonte Burton, a hometown kid from Milwaukee, is the 11th-ranked small forward in the 2013 class. The 6'5" 230-pound wing has the physical makeup to be a good player in this league. Burton will likely slide behind Jamil Wilson at the small forward position.
Duane Wilson also comes from Milwaukee and will be one of three players with the last name Wilson on Marquette in 2013. He will fight for and share minutes with junior Derrick Wilson for the starting point guard position, following Junior Cadougan's graduation. He was the 11th-ranked point guard in his class.
JaJuan Johnson, not to be confused with the former Purdue star, was the ninth-ranked shooting guard in the class of 2013. As every player on Marquette must fight for his minutes, Johnson will slot at shooting guard as will junior Todd Mayo in 2013. Johnson and McKay's impacts may be the most immediate of this five-man recruiting class.