"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Looking ahead -- Jamil Wilson, 2009 and beyond

Jamil Wilson of Racine has emerged as one of the nation's best players in the class of 2009, and is garnering strong interest from Michigan State, Duke, UCLA, and Kansas -- each of whom will host Wilson on an official visit. Texas, Tennessee and Purdue are also in the mix. Given the proximity to MU and UW, Wilson is not expected to take an official visit to either in-state program. Sam Webb from Detnews.com talked with Wilson about MSU and filed this report.

Wilson would be a huge get for Buzz Williams and Marquette, particularly given the premier programs the kid is interested in. And let's face it, a major talent influx by kids like Jamil Wilson must be in order if MU expects to remain a fixture in the NCAA tournament.

After what should be a successful 2008-2009 campaign (presuming Jerel McNeal returns), Buzz Williams has a number of gaps to fill if he hopes to strengthen a decidedly weak roster. Right now, Williams has a 2009-2010 group built almost exclusively with role players. Thankfully, Williams has early playing time to offer prospects as he closes out 2008 recruiting and looks ahead to 2009 and beyond.

With props to the slick scholarship table over at the MUScoop Wiki, here's a quick look at the current state 2009-2010 roster (walk-ons excluded):

Seniors: Lazar Hayward, David Cubillan, Maurice Acker
Juniors: Trevor Mbakwe, Patrick Hazel, Joseph Fulce, Jimmy Butler
Sophs: Chris Otule
Frosh: Erik Williams (verbal commitment)

By any measure, this roster won't get it done in the Big East. The talent needs a major upgrade. The Marquette basketball program will be at a crossroads in 2009. Will the program take a major step back, or will coach Williams right the ship with an influx of high-ceiling talent to populate the freshmen and sophomore classes?

Landing the uber-talented Erik Williams, who despite missing most of his junior season wowed scouts and projects to be a four-star talent, is a fine way to start the upgrading process. Here are some other likely recruiting priorities for MU in 2009:

  • Pure point guard who can play big minutes immediately. MU was staring this same situation in the face four years ago when Crean landed James to replace Diener.
  • Dead-eye shooter. With the three-point line moving back, it;s time for an upgrade.
  • Skilled big man. Mbakwe could be a fine power forward if he's not forced into the middle because of a thin frontcourt roster.
  • Jamil Wilson. Hey, a guy can dream right? Wilson will be tough to land but if he signs on with MU, the program immediately moves up a notch.
Marquette hired Buzz Williams largely based on his track record as a recruiter. In fact, derivatives of the term 'recruit' appeared sixteen times in the press release announcing his new position. Buzz Williams must deliver quickly to keep the Golden Eagles dancing for years to come.


Alex said...

You outline the problems we potentially face in 2009 quite well. Crean really left us a mess.

Although, why is "NY Warrior" referring to Marquette as the "Golden Eagles"?

Anonymous said...

Setting our sites on Wilson is fine, but MU is not in the same league as those other programs. If we miss out on him, it will not be a failure, but another dose of reality: MU's a strong program but not an elite program like Kansas, Duke, UCLA, and MSU. If Buzz lands Wilson, that's incredible, miraculous even. If he doesn't, and Wilson attends one of the elites, then life goes on. Once those elites show up, he becomes a national target, not an in-state hidden gem. As fans, let's not pin our hopes on this kid as a make-or-break get for that class. Major coup if Buzz can get him to come, but I view this as highly unlikely, not because of Buzz, but because of the other programs in the mix.

As I recall, UW's 2009-2010 recruiting class is filled, so it's unlikely Wilson will go there.

Buzz and the team will help their recruiting efforts by putting forth a great 2008-2009 campaign: beating Louisville (at least once), playing Tennessee tough in Knoxville, beating UW, finishing in the top 4/5 of the Big East, and duplicating the BE tourney performance. Pull that off, and the 2009-2010 class takes care of itself.

Gene Frenkle said...

The problem with that, Matt, is that the best '09 seniors will commit in the fall of 2008, not the spring of 09. Sure, there will likely be some transfers, or players released (like Taylor and Williams), but Buzz will have to convince some players of his coaching prowess before he gets a chance to show it. If he doesn't, our back-court in '09 will be shaky.

If the team performs great next season, it will help obviously. But it may not be enough to shore up a great 09 class.

For an example of this, look to Crean's class of 2003. We go to the Final Four that year, but the class we had coming into the 03/04 season consisted of these four standouts:

Dameon Mason - transferred, never graduated
Brandon Bell - transferred
Carlton Christian - transferred
Marcus Jackson - the glue of our backcourt...too bad he was a center

Even coming off a Final Four year, our class that year was awful. Again, shows the pressure that Buzz has on him this year.

Anonymous said...

That's true, Gene. I guess my fundamental message is that Wilson seems to be a talent that fans shouldn't expect Buzz/MU to land.