LEARY: Three players of interest from the Wooden Legacy

The Wooden Legacy tournament provided a truly mixed bag of results for the Marquette men’s basketball team this past weekend.

The Golden Eagles finished second to No. 24 San Diego State but scored convincing victories against Cal State Fullerton and George Washington. In those three games, a few players showed promising or troubling signs for their individual success as the season wears on.

1. Jamil Wilson

Wilson is consistently inconsistent. On any given night, the 6-foot-7 redshirt senior from Racine is equally capable of giving a dominant performance as he is a poor one. Take his three games in the Wooden Legacy as a prime example of his erratic play.

Thursday vs. Fullerton: 24 points, 10-for-14 shooting, 3-for-3 from beyond the arc, nine rebounds, four assists. Generally awesome in all facets.

Friday vs. George Washington: five points, 2-for-8 shooting, 1-for-2 from beyond the arc, seven rebounds, four assists. Not a good shooting day, but contributed in other areas.

Sunday vs. San Diego State: nine points, 4-for-10 shooting, 0-for-4 from beyond the arc, three rebounds, one assist. Sure, he scored some, but a bad game overall, especially when he ran the point.

Usually, by the time a player in Buzz Williams’ system gets to his senior year, he develops a consistency where you know what to expect from him night in and night out. Chris Otule and Davante Gardner embody that expectation. Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom did as well. With Wilson, it’s impossible to predict when he will assert himself and when he will disappear into the background. Marquette needs Wilson to show up every game to achieve the offensive stability to play close games against elite defensive units like San Diego State.

2. Derrick Wilson

If Jamil is consistently inconsistent, Derrick is simply consistent. This weekend, he took his game to a whole new level offensively. He put forth scoring efforts of six, nine and 11 points and totaled 11 rebounds and 12 assists in the contests. The question on most Marquette fans’ minds is why hasn’t this happened before?

For context, Wilson averaged 0.6 points per game as a freshman and increased his average to 1.1 as a sophomore. He has averaged 5.5 points per game so far this season. In fact, he made more field goals in eight games this season than he did the entirety of last season in just under half of the minutes.

Couple that with his defensive intensity that remains mostly unaffected by the new hand checking rules in college hoops, and Wilson is becoming the floor general Williams envisioned him as.

3. Jajuan Johnson/Deonte Burton

OK, I cheated and put two here, but they both had similar weekends. Each freshman had a breakout game and was hardly noticeable in the other two.

Johnson exploded offensively against Fullerton Thursday, scoring 18 points in 27 minutes and shooting 6-for-8 from the field, including 3-for-3 from long range. Similarly, Burton put Gotham on notice against San Diego State Sunday by scoring 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting and getting aggressive against a tough Aztecs defense.

However, neither played a significant factor in the other two games in the tournament. Burton scored two points in his two non-breakout games, while Johnson completely shut off, not scoring at all after Thursday. If either of those two can find a consistent offensive game before Big East play begins, Marquette could get right back in the mix for a conference title.


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