A Marquette Transfer and Injury Has Short and Long-Term ImpactsPosted by George Hershey on October 25th, 2013
In the past week, Marquette fans have received quite a bit of bad news via social media. Last Thursday, incoming junior college transfer Jameel McKay went to Twitter to announce his departure from the school before even playing a game. The next day, freshman point guard Duane Wilson sent out a picture of himself on crutches on his Instagram account. It was not announced officially until Monday when the Marquette men’s basketball Twitter account noted that he would miss the start of the season with a stress fracture in his left leg.
McKay was supposed to be next in a growing line of successful junior college recruits for Buzz Williams. Since coming to Marquette, Williams has had five junior college players and four of them have gone on to the NBA, most recently the pair of Dwight Buycks and Jae Crowder. McKay came to the program after starring in the Milwaukee public school league and then went on to Indian Hills Community College, where he was a two-time All-American. He is an athletic forward with great energy and rebounding skills. Popular Marquette basketball website PaintTouches.com recently spoke with McKay about his departure, where he revealed that he was unhappy with his role on the team and is looking for a better situation. A fellow Milwaukee native, Wilson is a high scoring point guard who can get to the rim at will and shoot a high percentage. Marquette fans were pulling for him to win the starting job out of the gate over junior Derrick Wilson. With Duane looking like he will be out eight to 12 weeks, there is little hope that he will crack the starting lineup this season.
Both of these losses have major short-term impacts. The loss of McKay will hurt the Golden Eagles’ frontcourt depth. He looked like a guy who could back up Jamil Wilson at the four and provide a spark off the bench while adjusting and learning how to play in the Big East. The Marquette frontcourt is well-stocked with seniors Chris Otule and Davante Gardner playing center and Jamil Wilson and Steve Taylor, Jr., playing power forward with the ability to stretch the floor. McKay would have given Williams the ability to mix and match different combinations and make sure all the big men stayed fresh. It is well-documented that Gardner has had conditioning issues and Otule has received two medical redshirts because of season-ending injuries.
Duane Wilson will only be out for three months at the most, but there is a large amount of worry and concern around the Marquette program. Wilson had a chance to play quality minutes early due to Derrick Wilson being the only returning point guard. The healthy Wilson has struggled with scoring, but Williams loves his defensive ability and tendency to rarely turn the ball over. Duane could have seen himself playing 10 to 15 minutes per game early on, gaining invaluable experience, and being able to learn from mistakes against less talented teams. The best-case scenario now puts Duane returning in mid-December, right before the start of conference play. This will not give him much time to adapt to the level of play and get accustomed with Williams’ in-game style of coaching. The last thing the fans want is for Wilson to return and end up sitting on the bench for the rest of the year because he cannot crack the rotation, giving him little chance to improve and grow frustrated as a result.
McKay’s departure greatly affects Marquette’s long term success. Williams was relying on McKay to most likely start at center in 2014-15. The only returning forwards will be Juan Anderson and Taylor, long, athletic “switchables,” as Williams puts it. Marquette has one scholarship left; he has already signed two shooting guards and two athletic wings. Now Williams has a huge job ahead of him to find a center who could potentially play right away. Fans are hoping that he is able to reel in 2015 star center Diamond Stone, a good friend and high school teammate of Duane Wilson. Before there is any chance of Stone playing for Marquette, don’t be surprised if Williams goes to the well and signs another junior college center to fill in the gap.