First Dominic James, Wes Matthews and Jerel McNeal, then Lazar Hayward, then Jimmy Butler, then Crowder and DJO, and now, Vander Blue.
Buzz Williams faces this question every offseason. So much that it has grown to be somewhat of a broken record. The question is, who is going to take over as Marquette’s lead scorer next season? In Buzz Williams’ five seasons at MU, eleven times has a player averaged 14 or more points per game. Eight of those eleven times, the player was a senior. However, in every season during his tenure Buzz has had at least one player average 14 points per game or more, and there has always been at least one more player to average more than 10 points – a great example of Buzz Williams’ ability to replace scorers year-after-year. Who will it be this year? We’ll start by throwing out a few names – give us your opinion in the comments section below or on Twitter.
SF/PF Jamil Wilson: Wilson, known as MU’s “glue-guy” of last season, looks more than ready to make the transition to lead scorer. With dominating athleticism (6’7, 225 pounds, 6’11 wingspan) to go along with a versatile offensive game (36% clip from three, 9.7 PPG), Wilson fits the mold of many previous MU top-scorers like Jimmy Butler or Jae Crowder. Already known to hit clutch shots (Davidson here and Rutgers here, among others), Wilson was a go-to guy late in games, a sidekick to Vander Blue – but with Blue gone, Wilson will have the lead role himself to lose. Ceiling: 15.5 PPG – Floor: 12.2 PPG
PF Davante Gardner: Gardner, reigning Big East 6th Man of the Year, ranked 5th in the nation in offensive efficiency (122.4 rating) last season per KenPom.com. Averaging 11.5 PPG, Gardner shot 59% from the floor and 84% from the line – garnering him the honor of being ranked nation’s most efficient player in this article by Bleacher Report. The only restraint keeping off the floor was his conditioning (a measly 21.5 minutes per game average last season) – and those who’ve seen Gardner play this offseason are raving about his physical shape. As long as Gardner keeps it up during the season, expect his production and role to increase. Ceiling: 14.2 PPG – Floor: 12.2 PPG
PF Jameel McKay: As stated in previous articles, McKay averaged 17.8 PPG at Indian Hills Community College as a sophomore. That number isn’t expected to translate to Division 1 competition, but nonetheless there’s no denying McKay’s prowess in the paint. Jameel is an explosive paint player who thrives on dunks and fast breaks. An exceptional rebounder (10.5 RPG at Indian Hills), McKay often gets put-backs, whether from his own or a teammate’s shot. He is not expected to be a threat from three, and his struggles from the line are well-documented (57% clip from JUCO, and another 57% during Pro-Am doesn’t help his case either). The combination of lack of offensive versatility and better defenses will play a factor in his scoring, but there’s no doubt McKay will be a powerful presence under the basket from day one. Ceiling: 12.6 PPG – Floor: 8.0 PPG
SG Todd Mayo: Mayo was a popular choice to be among the team’s top scorers around a month ago – his academic issues were behind him, he seemingly matured and had worked out all offseason with NBA player and brother O.J. Mayo. He seemed to be ready to return to being the freshman who showed flash averaging a solid 8 PPG, not the sophomore who rarely played averaging 5 PPG. However, an unexpected knee surgery threw a wrench in those plans, and Mayo is now questionable for the start of the season. With a full recovery, Mayo should have the starting job to lose – but there’s no telling how long it could take, or whether there will be mid-season complications. Ceiling: 8.5 PPG – Floor: 6.5 PPG (assuming fully healthy)
PG Duane Wilson (Dark Horse): Wilson is labeled as a dark horse because he isn’t expected to start immediately, but because of his elite scoring and passing abilities it’s a very real possibility he receives the most minutes out of all the point guards. Though only a freshman, Wilson can already score from all over the court, and knows how to get his teammates involved as well. Whether Buzz decides to start games with a more veteran presence in Derrick Wilson, or he turns to a more skilled player in Duane – there’s no denying who’s the more talented of the two. Ceiling: 9.5 PPG – Floor: 5.6 PPG
All predictions are subject to change, being only August. The fact of the matter is there’s no telling who will do what this year. No one likes to hear “wait and see,” but that’s just what we’re gonna have to do if we want real answers. However, educated guesses never hurt, and offseason article topics are scarce. Closer to the season we expect to release full overviews on all players, but for now we’ll stick to tentative ceiling-floor predictions.
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