After an Elite Eight appearance in March Madness 2013, Buzz Williams has the college basketball world buzzing around his Golden Eagle program. Marquette should head into this coming season as the favorites in the newly formed Big East, followed closely behind by Creighton and Georgetown.
For sake of this article, I projected Marquette's starting lineup to be Derrick Wilson, Todd Mayo, Jamil Wilson, Davante Gardner and Chris Otule, all returning players from a year ago.
While in all likelihood freshmen Duane Wilson or JaJuan Johnson ill wsnag a starting guard spot, or junior college star Jameel McKay starts over Gardner at power forward (as Gardner has always been used as a reserve), it was easier to find highlights for the five players that I have used here as opposed to prep videos.
Derrick Wilson, who will compete with incoming freshman Duane Wilson (no relation), played behind Junior Cadougan for two seasons at point. Wilson rarely looks to score, but is a shutdown defender and a facilitator on offense. In this video, Wilson makes a steal before looking ahead to the flying Vander Blue.
While Cadougan wasn't a big-time scorer at point guard, Derrick Wilson will need to up his scoring at least a little if he wants to win and keep a starting job. Duane Wilson is projected as a combo guard, who seems to be a more natural scorer than Derrick. Still, I see Williams giving Derrick the nod early on.
After having to sit out the entire first semester of the 2012-13 campaign, Mayo never really got on track as a sophomore. Mayo had a promising freshman season, but saw inconsistent minutes this past year in Marquette's deep offense by committee rotation. Still, I see him bouncing back as a junior.
Mayo, the younger brother of now-Milwaukee Buck OJ Mayo, shows a flash of his now-local brother's athleticism in this posterizing dunk at West Virginia as a freshman. Mayo can take the ball to the basket, but more often than not is standing behind the arc along the perimeter ready to catch and shoot.
Jamil Wilson was Marquette's best, and really only, three-point threat last season. In this video, Wilson puts the Golden Eagles ahead of Rutgers with a triple. This redshirt senior and Oregon transfer was MU's second-best player during their NCAA tournament run this past March, behind Vander Blue.
Wilson showed signs of athleticism and assertiveness in March that were lacking at many points during the regular season. Last season, Wilson was a backup power forward, but is expected to move to small forward in a crowded Golden Eagle frontcourt, and also because Wilson does damage on the perimeter.
No player on Marquette's roster is receiving as much preseason praise as Gardner, a three-year reserve behind Chris Otule at center. Though that may be the case again in 2013-14, Gardner will still receive starter's minutes (and potentially even more PT than a year ago) and will be the go-to guy on this team.
Gardner is more athletic than he looks, as shown by his fastbreak euro-step finish in an NCAA tournament win over Butler, which ironically was Brad Stevens' last collegiate game. Gardner is a deadly free-throw shooter, an underrated passer and can play big-time minutes for someone his size.
Chris Otule has been on Marquette's campus for as long as Buzz Williams has been its head coach: five seasons. As multiple injuries have hindered Otule's career, he was recently granted a sixth season of eligibility. While Otule's upside isn't as high as the youngsters', he can still be counted on to produce.
Otule is a big body who can defend and rebound. In this video, though, Otule gets a putback and-1 against Notre Dame in last season's Senior Day, where Otule was the star dominating Jack Cooley. Otule continued to play well in March Madness, which likely made his decision to come back for one more season an easy one.