Before the season started, things could only get better for Derrick Wilson. As a freshman he was strictly a defender, and was not encouraged to shoot at all on offense. At one point he averaged one field goal attempt every 26 minutes he was on the court. His coach, Buzz Williams, was fine with that.
In 2011-’12, he was simply Junior Cadougan’s back-up. Wilson would come in and spell Cadougan when he needed a breather, and that was about it. There were many offense-defense switches, but there were few times when Wilson was actually preferred to the Golden Eagles’ starter.
As Marquette was prepared to take on Ohio State, Wilson was open in the build-up in saying he improved his game in the offseason. He worked a lot on his jump-shot and offensive game, because there’s nothing wrong with Wilson defensively.
So how’d it go?
Stats: 1.1 points, 0.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 27.3% FG, 19 turnovers, 13.1 minutes
Wilson’s minutes increased for a variety of reasons. Cadougan’s inconsistency was still on full display, and Wilson improved his game enough to play just over four more minutes per game.
Offensively, Wilson’s best strategy was to not do anything wrong. He figured that out, and did his job very well. He played in every game this season and committed just over one-half of a turnover per game. While he did not score at a more notable rate, Wilson clearly improved this season.
On the other end of the court, Wilson remained solid. Defensively, his skillset is extremely impressive. Wilson could have been a Division-I running back, and it’s clear why. His quickness and size make him a very good defender at the point guard decision.
After Marquette’s first two wins in the NCAA Tournament, Williams said that Wilson was the reason the Golden Eagles were still playing. Wilson played a big role in defending Davidson’s Nik Cochran and Butler’s Rotnei Clarke in Lexington, and did so very well.
In those two games, Cadougan was not at his best offensively so Wilson played some significant minutes at crucial moments in the game. When I asked Williams about Cadougan’s performances in those two games because of the Golden Eagles’ dependence on him, he was quick to say that Wilson was why they were off to the Elite Eight.
The most frustrating moment of Wilson’s season may have come against Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament. While the Golden Eagles were struggling for offense against the Orange, Wilson went 0 of 2 from the field, missing a runner and a long jump shot.
Statistically, because Wilson did not score much or turn the ball over that much, it’s tough to find a low point for him. The fewest minutes he played was the first game against Syracuse at the BMO Harris Bradley Center when he only played two.
Wilson’s role is well established: he is a defensive stopper and a stabilizing force on offense. He is not going to wow anyone, but he is rarely going to make people mad at him because they know what he can do offensively.
He did see an increased role last season, and will hope to make another step forward as a junior. Duane Wilson Jr. is a consensus top-100 recruit and is going to give the incumbent Wilson a run for his money for the majority of the minutes at the point guard position.
It is likely Wilson will play a similar number of minutes that he did this past season next year, maybe more. Wilson Jr. is an impressive offensive talent whose skills are going to demand significant playing time. It’s up to Wilson to improve his game even more where he is the Golden Eagles best point guard as a junior.