With three straight trips to the Sweet Sixteen, Buzz Williams has returned Marquette to national prominence. As another strong recruiting class makes its way to Milwaukee, thee Golden Eagles look to defend their share of the Big East crown.
Marquette lost arguably their two best players from their Elite Eight run, Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan. Sticking around however is a massive frontcourt with Chris Otule and Davante Gardner ready to pound the paint. Their weakness is the backcourt, as the Golden Eagles don't have a proven guard that can score the basketball. Instead they will hope that an incoming player can step into that role.
One of the premier recruiting classes in the country, Williams has three four-star incoming freshmen and nearly had a fourth. Jameel McKay enrolled at Marquette but transferred to Iowa State inexplicably this week. Still, JaJuan Johnson, Duane Wilson and Deonte Burton would be a nice haul for any elite program.
With Louisville, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia and Notre Dame not a part of the new Big East, Marquette will have less to contend with over the regular season. Doug McDermott and Creighton will present a challenge, as will the always impressive Georgetown Hoyas. But if Buzz Williams gets his players to play up to their potential and beyond, Marquette could cruise to their second straight conference title.
Derrick Wilson: The projected starting point guard, Wilson's job will be to dump the ball inside to the loaded frontcourt. The junior isn't a threat to score, never averaging even a basket per game through two seasons. If he can just get the ball up the floor safely, Wilson will have done his job.
Todd Mayo: After a promising freshman season, Mayo's totals plummeted in his sophomore campaign. Shooting just over 35% from the field, it's going to be hard for Buzz Williams to keep Mayo on the floor if his shot doesn't improve.
JaJuan Johnson: Buzz Williams' top recruit, the shooting guard is the No. 35 prospect in the country according to Rivals. Johnson has a quick first step and is expected to develop into a finisher at the college level. The Memphis native may struggle adjusting to the Eagles half-court style, but it never hurts to have an up-tempo guard on the second unit.
Duane Wilson: Another incoming freshman, Wilson is a 6'3 point guard from Milwaukee. Rivals has him as the 11th-ranked point guard and No. 51 recruit in the country. Part of the reigning state championship team in high school, Wilson is one of two local recruits for Buzz WIlliams this season.
Davante Gardner: A beast with his back to the basket, the 6'8, 290-pound senior shot 58.5% en route to 11.5 points per game. He played only 21.5 minutes per game as the 6th man last season, and will need to sustain that production as a starter if Marquette is going to compete.
Jamil Wilson: As the swing forward, Wilson fills out the stat sheet quite nicely. He has improved every season, nearly cracking double digits in points as a junior with a more solid jump shot. At 6'7, Wilson can defend multiple positions and nearly averaged a block per game last season.
Juan Anderson: For a guy who is just 215 pounds, Anderson is a quality rebounder. Despite his slender frame, he averages almost nine rebounds per 40 minutes. Not much of a threat to score, the junior will provide depth for a loaded frontcourt.
Deonte Burton: Like Duane Wilson, Burton is a local player committing to his hometown team. He also fits the Marquette profile as he combines his athleticism with elite toughness. The 6'5 small forward can defend two positions and can score the ball off the dribble.
Chris Otule: The rim protector. Averaging a block per game in just 17 minutes of play, Otule was the de facto starter last season. Though he often gave way to Gardner, the 6'11 center shot well from the block. His real weakness is free throw shooting, unable to crack 50 percent last season.