When assistant coach Aki Collins first saw Derrick Wilson play, he had no intentions of actively recruiting him, much less one day signing him to play at Marquette.
Almost three years later, Wilson is preparing to suit up for the Golden Eagles.
Point guard was not a position needed by the Golden Eagles when Collins was recruiting shooting guard Doron Lamb and small forward Shane Southwell, Wilson’s Amateur Athletic Union teammates playing for the New York Gauchos.
With then-sophomore Junior Cadougan and freshman Reggie Smith in the mix, there were more pressing needs on the recruiting front.
“We didn’t think we needed a point guard, so we weren’t actively recruiting him,” Collins said. “But we still knew who he was.”
But as the coaching staff sensed that Smith was going to transfer, which he eventually did in December, they began to look at point guards on the recruiting front.
Because Collins had already seen him play and knew his skill set, Wilson was at the top of Marquette’s list. After he and assistant coach Scott Monarch took visits to see Wilson in action, both were sold.
“We came back saying the same thing,” Collins said. “He was really good defensively, can score the basketball and was a solid player. He has to improve on some aspects of his game, but what our needs were and what we were looking for, he fit the bill to a T.”
Wilson was also sold on the Golden Eagles.
He took his official visit at the end of October and committed a week later, choosing Marquette over Oklahoma, Georgia Tech, West Virginia and DePaul.
“When I came out here on my visit, and I looked at the school, they work hard, have a tough mentality, and that’s what I’ve been raised on,” Wilson said. “And that was a big deal with my decision.”
Dwight Buycks’ departure leaves over 28 minutes per game up for grabs at the point guard position, and Wilson said if he is going to see time this season, defense will be the reason why.
Collins agreed, explaining that Wilson’s defense is a complement to Cadougan’s offensive game.
“Not saying that Junior (Cadougan) can’t by any means play defense, but I think Derrick’s calling card is that he can guard the ball (for) 94 feet,” Collins said. “He’s a little bit quicker than Junior, but they are very similar.”
Wilson specifically noted sophomore guard Vander Blue as one person who has taken him under his guidance and helped him acclimate to the collegiate game.
“I’ve just been trying to give him my best advice to be successful,” Blue said. “And he listens to me, and he comes to me for advice. He’s taking everything in, and he’s doing really well.”
Collins said that Wilson’s defensive skills are evident, but the coaching staff would like to see more aggressiveness on the offensive end.
“I think what he’s tried to do is not make mistakes,” Collins said. “And at this stage of his career, we haven’t even started practice yet, so we want him to be more daring. Go out there and expand your game, see what you can do.
“It’s easier for us to calm you down or tame you; it’s harder to replicate up. And he’s starting to understand that and becoming more aggressive on the offensive end,” Collins added.