Damage Control Complete

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By David K.

All things considered, new Marquette head coach Buzz Williams deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Golden Eagles’ core in tact following Tom Crean’s exodus for Indiana.  I will admit that I, like many fans, was very pessimistic about the potential fallout from Crean leaving and how it would affect the make-up of MU’s roster and the future of the program.
 

Class of ’08-‘09

Of the four recruits originally committed to the Tom Crean led Marquette Golden Eagles, two were released from their scholarships.  Shooting guard Nick Williams from Mobile, Alabama wanted out and got his wish.  Now it appears he could be following Crean to Indiana.  Same applies for point guard Tyshawn Taylor of St. Anthony’s High School in New Jersey who has been granted permission by Marquette to look at other places to play college basketball.  Taylor’s high school coach has said that Taylor is not ruling out Marquette, but just wants to visit some other schools.  Though that might sound encouraging, I would assume Taylor is as good as gone.  

Still honoring their commitments to Marquette are 6’10 Chris Otule from Texas and junior college transfer Joseph Fulce, a 6’7 swingman.  Both guys were recruited by Williams, who has strong connections on the prep scene in Texas from his days as an assistant at Texas A&M.  Williams also didn’t hesitate in finding a replacement for Williams by landing 6’6 versatile swingman Jimmy Butler, a juco teammate of Fulce’s.  Both Fulce and Butler will have three years of eligibility at MU.

Further demonstrating his grasp of recruiting in the Long Star state, Buzz received great news when 2009-2010 recruit Erik Williams, a small forward from Cypress, Texas confirmed that he will still honor his original commitment to Marquette.  This should be considered a great victory as Williams is currently ranked as the 7th best small forward prospect for the class of ’09 by scouts.com.  With Fulce, Butler, and Williams coming in the next two seasons and the improvement of Lazar Hayward from his freshman to sophomore year, the Golden Eagles should have a very athletic, multi-talented group of wing players/forwards to lead their charge once the Big 3 exhaust their eligibility after this up-coming season.

The next mission for Williams will be convincing Racine Horlick’s Jamil Wilson to stay close to home and play for MU.  According to scouts.com, the 6’7 power forward is listed as the second best power forward prospect for the class of ’09 and has Marquette on a long list of teams he is interested in which also includes Wisconsin and Crean’s Hoosiers.

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The Returning Golden Eagles

Of the current Golden Eagles Williams is inheriting from Crean, only one player will not return.  Combo guard Scott Christopherson was released from his scholarship as he will look to transfer.  While Christopherson has a nice up-side, he likely didn’t figure to be a prominent part of the Golden Eagles rotation next season and it’s unsure as to just how big of a long-term impact he would have had on the program.

When Crean made his announcement to bolt to IU, initial rumors had Marquette possibly losing three other returning players; Dominic James and Jerel McNeal to the NBA Draft, and Trevor Mbakwe likely transferring back to his home state to play for Tubby Smith at Minnesota.  That has proven to be nothing more than over-exaggerated panic. 

James has wisely decided to return for his senior season as he likely realized that there was no chance in hell that he was going to be a first round pick and possibly wouldn’t have even been drafted at all.  I had heard rumors that because of personal reasons, James was all but gone from the Golden Eagles even if it meant him playing somewhere overseas.  Thankfully, for the temporary well-being of the program, that did not come to realization.

McNeal has not made an official announcement regarding his future, but I would be shocked if he was not in a Golden Eagle’s blue and gold next season.  There is still the possibility that he can declare for the NBA Draft and not sign an agent which would leave the door open for a return to Marquette.  McNeal could still take that route just to get a feel from NBA executives as to what aspects of his game need improvement to help his draft stock the following year.  Unless McNeal knows that he would be a definite first-round pick, he would be foolish to hire an agent and not return.

As for Mbakwe, there was a lot of talk of him wanting to transfer even before Crean’s departure.  The soon-to-be sophomore recently shot down those rumors asserting that he never wanted out of Marquette.  Mbakwe’s return is huge for MU’s front-court which is already losing post-players Ousmanne Barro, Dan Fitzgerald, and Lawrence Blackledge to graduation. 

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So as it stands, this is how Marquette’s depth chart figures to be for next season (discounting the slim chance that Taylor re-commits to Marquette):
C Burke/Mbakwe/Otule
PF Hayward/Hazel
SF Matthews/Fulce
SG McNeal/Cubillan/Butler
PG James/Acker

Buzz Williams has proven to be the smart hire thus far as he has maintained stability within the Marquette basketball program.  Now, we just need to hope his coaching abilities on the court are level to his recruiting efforts off of it.

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  1. paulmbanks says

    So which Lost character would Buzz Williams be?

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