While the disappointment of laying an egg in the Elite 8 against Syracuse still lingers, the future remains extremely bright for a Marquette program coming off their third straight trip to the Sweet 16. Assuming Buzz Williams returns for his sixth season and the incoming recruiting class remains in tact, the Golden Eagles should be even better in 2013-14.
Marquette will lose two starters in point guard Junior Cadougan and wing Trent Lockett, and possibly a third if big man Chris Otule decides not to use his medical hardship year and end his college career. All indications are that Otule will return for his sixth year since he did not partake in the Senior Night festivities. If he is back in a Golden Eagle uniform next season, Marquette will return seven players who averaged at least ten minutes per game including their top three leading scorers.
Vander Blue, Jamil Wilson, and Devante Gardner all made massive strides from their sophomore to junior years so if that can carry over into their senior campaigns, watch out! Steve Taylor also showed great promise during his freshman season so his growth from year one to year two will certainly be something to keep an eye on as well.
With all that talent returning, the newly rich get even richer since a top ten nationally ranked recruiting class arrives to Milwaukee including three top 75 ranked players and one of the top JUCO recruits in the country in Jameel McKay. As things stand right now, this is my projection of what the Marquette depth chart will likely be entering next season:
C: Chris Otule (Sr)/Davante Gardner (Sr)
F: Jamil Wilson (Sr)/Steve Taylor (So)
F: Juan Anderson (Jr)/Jameel McKay (Jr)/Deonte Burton (Fr)
SG: Vander Blue (Sr)/Todd Mayo (Jr)/Jajuan Johnson (Fr)/Jake Thomas (Sr)/Jamal Ferguson (So)
PG: Derrick Wilson (Jr) or Duane Wilson (Fr)/John Dawson (Fr)
One thing you will notice is that assuming Otule is back, Marquette will have 15 players on their roster, 14 of them under scholarship since Jake Thomas will return to being a walk-on. Since the NCAA only allows a maximum of 13 scholarship players for a Division One program, something has to give. That leads be to believe that Todd Mayo may end up transferring after everything that has transpired over the last year combined with the fact that Marquette brings in four freshmen guards/wings who could easily steal the minimal playing time he saw at points during the season.
Whatever ends up happening with Mayo, depth will once again be a major strength for MU. They should once again be able to go 11 deep on any given night and have a roster loaded with versatility or “switchables” as Buzz calls them that should allow Marquette to use numerous different line-ups throughout the course of a game and put constant pressure on their opponents.
The most interesting position battle heading into next season will be at point guard. We all know Buzz praises Derrick Wilson due to his defensive intensity but let’s be honest, he is pretty inept when it comes to the offensive end. Yes, he takes care of the basketball but Wilson is zero threat as a scorer. Cadougan was very similar during his first two years at MU so there is still a possibility that Wilson will become more aggressive and assertive on the offensive end.
Freshman point guard Duane Wilson seems to have the complete package on offense. At 6-3, he has good size, is dangerous off the bounce, can stroke it from the outside, and knows how to distribute the rock. If the Whitefish Bay Dominican product can pick things up quickly, he should be a major factor in his freshman season which could lead Buzz to using another offense/defense type rotation between Wilson and Wilson, similar to what transpired this past season with Cadougan and Derrick.
With all this talent on the roster, Marquette figures to compete with Georgetown for the top spot in the newly formed Big East as preseason favorite since the Hoyas return everyone but Otto Porter. Not only that, but the Golden Eagles have a realistic chance of being a top ten team next season. Bias aside, I know they will make a top ten appearance in my 2013-2014 pre-seaon rankings but don’t expect the same result on the national level since MU seems to be under-respected at the beginning of every season. Maybe that will change after a third straight Sweet 16 trip, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Count on this though; Marquette will once again be a major factor on the national level in 2013-2014 especially once March rolls around. It is what people should learn to expect from a Buzz Williams’ coached team.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)
You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.