For those waiting to hear why Marquette freshman Jeronne Maymon quit the basketball team Monday, some of their questions were answered Wednesday when his father, Tim Maymon, was reached via telephone. He spoke of reasons that included his son “not being used the way he needs to be used” as well as Marquette failing to “run the offense for him”.
The words spoken by the Madison native’s father are, to put it lightly, ridiculous. Known to speak his mind whenever he is given the opportunity, it seems as though Maymon’s father is telling the truth and that most of the reason his son is not at Marquette is because of their own personal choice.
While the words are disappointing to hear for Marquette fans, that one of their players would feel so out of place just 10 games into their career, the news is in a way good because it appears as though head coach Buzz Williams was not at fault and that nothing ended on specifically bad terms.
The wonder of the internet allowed for tens of rumors to circulate about why Maymon had decided to quit the team, ranging from a verbal altercation between Williams and Maymon’s father to Maymon freaking out during finals week (which Marquette students are currently in). If there can ever be a “good” reason for why a player leaves a team, it would be this.
While Maymon leaving on his own terms is good for Marquette basketball’s image, the ultimate decision and reasons behind it are head scratching and disheartening to say the least. From what I got out of the comments from Maymon’s father, Jeronne felt like he should have been a bigger part of the offense while playing a different position, at one point saying “they’ve got him playing center and that ain’t what he does.”
Apparently being a team player “ain’t what he does” either. Losing Dwight Burke, Pat Hazel, Chris Otule to graduation, transfer, and injury in the span of less than a year made Marquette’s front court a carousel this season. With Lazar Hayward holding down the same power forward position he excelled at last season and Jimmy Butler coming out of the gates firing, the two forward spots seemed all but locked down as the season began.
With Hayward and Butler expected to average close to 30 minutes per game, the only position left on the court was at center where Maymon was expected to use his big 6’6″, 250-pound frame to battle against the Big East’s best inside every night.
Forget the fact that next year a healthy Chris Otule and a more experienced Youssoupha Mbao would be back to take over center duties while Maymon moved back to his traditional power forward role. Remember, that “ain’t what he does”.
It’s true that Maymon was playing out of position by playing center and that his 16.3 minutes a game didn’t have him as a projected lottery pick, hurting his chances at being a one-and-done college player like his father expected him to be. But as mad as Maymon was, he would have done himself some good by looking around the locker room and finding Lazar Hayward to ask him about playing out of position at Marquette, and seeing where it got him.
Much like Maymon, Hayward was a four-star prospect out of high school and was ranked in the same 60-80 range by most college recruiting experts. At 6’5″ and weighing just over 200 pounds (think a shorter Joe Fulce), Hayward was considered a typical tweener between shooting guard and small forward. His inside skills outweighed his ball handling and outside shooting, so many expected him to stay at small forward during his time at Marquette.
In his freshman season, Hayward averaged 16.3 minutes per game (sound familiar?), while posting 6.6 points and 3.3 rebounds. Because some sophomore named Wes Matthews had supplanted himself as the starting small forward, Hayward saw most of his time at power forward despite being greatly undersized for the position.
The next season, junior Wes Matthews (who was also playing out of position as a 6’4″ small forward) improved even more and so did Hayward, again at the power forward spot. By Matthews’ senior season, Hayward was dubbed the “big man” inside for Marquette, who ran a four-guard offense for the majority of the game. The 6’5″, now-225 pound Hayward had played out of position for three years while standing in the shadows of the Three Amigos’ spotlight and never made a peep, instead choosing to accept his role and make the most out of it.
Make the most out of it he did as Hayward was awarded a First Team All-Big East selection before the start of his senior season. Not only has Hayward become a great player on the court, but he is an even better one off it. His passion for the game and unselfish attitude are main reasons he is loved by all his teammates, who admittedly are playing for him this season as the power forward in a small forward’s body goes for his fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
And to think that Hayward would not have accomplished any of this had he told Marquette “that ain’t what he does”. No Jeronne, what Hayward does is go out and fight for his team on the front of the jersey, not the back, regardless of where or how much he is playing.
It’s easy to say that Marquette and its fans wish Maymon the best, but if his attitude is the same wherever he winds up, our wishes will mean very little. Did the Maymon family really believe that their freshman son would come in and have the offense run through him? If Maymon was really the next coming of Michael Beasley like his father thinks he is, wouldn’t Buzz Williams, a great talent evaluator, have seen it by now?
What exactly is Maymon’s father teaching his 19-year-old son if every time things get hard and he isn’t satisfied with a certain situation, that he should “just kind of move on and regroup”? It’s a shame that his father has been (seemingly) the one calling the shots throughout this whole process and that Jeronne has suffered because of it.
It’s not even as if Maymon was sitting on the bench this season. Instead, injuries and a lack of size gave Maymon more playing time than he deserved based on his previous performances. The true story may never come out about what Buzz Williams promised Maymon or if Maymon’s father and Buzz got into an altercation, but one thing is clear: on the list of traits that defined Jeronne Maymon, “team player” was not one of them.
Clearly, “that ain’t what he does”.
Marquette Basketball head coach Buzz Williams announced Monday evening that freshman forward Jeronne Maymon had quit the team, effective immediately. Maymon appeared in nine games for the Golden Eagles, averaging 4.0 points and 4.2 rebounds. The loss comes as a shock to the majority of Marquette fans as Maymon, after a slow start, had seemed to be coming around and feeling more comfortable in the offense.
Now that the logistical stuff is out of the way, it’s time for an opinion piece because to be completely honest, for the first time since becoming a Marquette Golden Eagles basketball fan, I am worried about the current state of the program. Through thick and thin, I have looked the other way and not made a big deal about the mishaps that have occurred, but enough is enough and it needs to be addressed.
For starters, let’s take a look at how the loss of Maymon is going to affect the 2009-2010 Golden Eagles. If anyone had any hope of making the NCAA Tournament, you may kindly stop talking and realize that this team would have to pull off a miracle to make the NIT.
Marquette currently has nine healthy scholarship players. Yes, you read that correctly. NINE. That means junior walk-on Rob Frozena will need to participate if Marquette wants to run 5-on-5 scrimmages in practice. Remember when we were joking before the season started because we couldn’t field a scrimmage with Joe Fulce, Darius Johnson-Odom, and Junior Cadougan all out ? Yeah, not so funny anymore.
Maymon averaged just over 16 minutes per game and those numbers are going to have to be made up for somewhere. While many are dubbing the move by Maymon as the coming out party for freshman Erik Williams, the more likely event is a boost in minutes for Joe Fulce and Lazar Hayward. Even Jimmy Butler and Hayward will now be asked to play Three Amigos-like minutes (in the 33-34 minute range instead of 28-30 minute range). That means Hayward MUST stay out of foul trouble. Oh boy…
It appeared that Maymon was destined to take over the starting forward role for Joe Fulce soon enough, but now that clearly will not happen. This means Fulce will stay in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season and the bench loses yet another player. With complaints about Buzz Williams only going with an 8-man rotation, now that’s about all he can do.
It only seems fitting that Marquette would lose a big man in this whole process. With more guards than we know what to do with, they now go from five true big men to four with the loss of Maymon. Already undersized, losing a 6’6″ body in the paint only has Big East opponents salivating even more.
As bad as it hurts to lose Maymon for the 2009 season, which all but sealed the fate for Hayward, David Cubillan, and Mo Acker’s senior year, the real story is an ugly trend that is occurring within the walls of Marquette basketball.
Since Buzz Williams has taken over for Tom Crean as head coach of the Golden Eagles, he has seen Pat Hazel, Scott Christopherson, Brett Rosebro, Aaron Bowen, and now Jeronne Maymon all head elsewhere after deciding on Marquette. One could even throw Trevor Mbakwe into the mix of players that have left Marquette on less than stellar terms.
One has to wonder if Buzz’s theory of recruiting as many good players as you can isn’t the best idea in the world. Is it really the best option to have your current recruits looking over their shoulder at any moment, knowing one day they could be logging over 15 minutes per game, while the next day you are on the bench being ridden off the team because you were recruited over? Competition is one thing and making players earn minutes by beating out teammates is one thing, but to openly admit that you will recruit as many good players that will fit the system is interesting to say the least.
I will not mention my personal opinion of what I believe led to Maymon leaving Marquette’s basketball team. There would be no point to it. Rumors are being thrown all over the place, all the way from Maymon’s father getting into an shouting match with Buzz to Maymon’s father not even knowing about his son leaving the team. The truth is no one knows what happened but that facts will surface soon enough.
Brett Rosebro, now playing for St. Bonaventure, had a well documented falling out from Marquette in which he claimed Buzz promised him things that he did not keep to. Some even speculate that Buzz promised Maymon a starting spot on the team this season and that is one of the main reasons he was unhappy.
The point is that, as far as we know, Maymon has quit the team and while it might not say something negative about MU basketball, it surely does not say anything positive. Throw in speculations (and mostly facts) about the reasons Hazel transferred to Boston University and why Acker left the team to “focus on studies” before joining the team, combined with 2010 recruit Monterale Clark’s sexual assault charge in Texas, and the whole Jesuit lifestyle is kind of looking like an afterthought lately.
Another issue is that of the injuries that have hit Marquette in the last year and a half. Injuries this season to Darius Johnson-Odom, Chris Otule, and Junior Cadougan have all occurred in practice and were all foot/ankle injuries to some extent. Last season, Joe Fulce, Otule, and Dominic James all went down with injuries as well. While bad luck undoubtedly played a role, one has to wonder if some of the injuries were caused by overworking the players early in the season.
Realize that I am not standing at the edge of the “Marquette basketball bridge” just because one player decided to transfer from the school. Marquette plays a different kind of basketball that clearly is not for everyone. I’m more worried about what the program is doing as a whole and where it’s headed.
The positives are there and they easily outweigh the negatives, no matter how bad the situation is. Marquette plays in the Big East, has the full support of the students at the school, has a great leader and will be around for a long time. But if Buzz Williams wants to take this program from good to great, or from great to elite, little things like the situations you have just read about can not happen.
Recruits will come and go and Buzz will continue to bring in the best players, but at what point is that not enough?
The Marquette Golden Eagles came to Orlando for the Old Spice Classic in hopes of preparing themselves for the Big East schedule by playing against some of the better teams in the country. What the Golden Eagles got was a boatload of confidence and two wins that are sure to look good on their tournament resume come March.
They ended the tournament Sunday night with a heart-breaking loss to Florida State 57-56 in the Championship game. Senior Lazar Hayward, who finished the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds, hit a jump shot from the free throw line with 32 seconds left to give Marquette the lead before Solomon Alibi returned the favor with a baseline floater of his own. Hayward averaged 22.6 points and 7.3 rebounds over the course of the tournament and was named to the All-Tournament team.
Jimmy Butler continued his excellent play and has joined Hayward as the forwards who will battle against bigger forwards night in and night out and grab boards with hustle and fundamentals rather than size. Big men like Jason Love (21 points, 19 rebounds) and Chris Singelton (18 points, 10 rebounds) were able to get their stats in the paint, but never took over the game.
The tournament also saw a coming out party of sorts for combo guard Darius Johnson-Odom, who finished the tournament averaging 13 points and two three-pointers per game. He hit big shot after big shot and showed a nice combination of outside shots as well as the ability to drive to the hoop with both hand. His big frame and high hops allow him to hang in the air and complete shots, even with contact.
Marquette’s biggest improvement came from the overall defense and, as a team, the Golden Eagles held their opponents to under 44 percent shooting from the field and forced 48 turnovers. Constant ball pressure and quickness on the outside made it tough for opponents to get the ball in the paint and forced bad shots. Attribute a lot of that pressure to David Cubillan and Maurice Acker, the two senior point guards who really made the ship sail on the defensive end. While he struggled offensively, Acker had eight steals in the tournament and did a great job turning those steals into transition offense.
A big part of that transition offense was Dwight Buycks, who seemed to be in the right spot at the right time for Marquette on the break and finished very strong at the basket when he got the ball. Buycks is turning into the “duct tape” role for the Golden Eagles, giving them a little bit everything in the scoring, passing, and rebounding department as well as solid help defense.
Overall, the tournament has to be looked at as a major success for head coach Buzz Williams and the Golden Eagles. Basically left for dead two games in a row, first against a taller Xavier team and then a more fundamentally sound Michigan team, Marquette proved they can hang with the big dogs and use their aggressive nature into forcing teams to make bad decisions. Late in the championship game, Florida State switched to a four-guard offense and took their best player, Alibi, out of the game for a large chunk of the second half. Marquette’s match-up problems on offense let them dictate what the other team did, and the results showed.
As much as Marquette gained from this experience as a team, they also have an early headliner for their tournament resume with wins over Xavier and 15th ranked Michigan. Both of Marquette’s victories came against teams that will be in the NCAA Tournament come March and Florida State should fight towards the top of the ACC standings, meaning Marquette’s RPI will benefit greatly from playing three potential tournament teams.
The future looks a whole lot brighter for Marquette than it did a week ago. Not to say that anyone was doubting that Marquette had talent, but the early returns are showing that not only do they have talent, but coach Buzz Williams is using it perfectly and the result is wins over some of the best teams in the country. For a team that has not even peaked, early confidence can only help the ceiling grow even more as to how good the team can be.
That confidence is coming around at a perfect time as Marquette will take on North Carolina State and in-state rival Wisconsin over the course of the next two weeks in what will also be huge games that could boost Marquette’s standing even more. A win over Florida State might have pushed Marquette into the top 25, and while they should receive some votes on Monday, that’s not what the Golden Eagles are focused on.
Rather, the bigger picture of racking up wins before the brutal Big East schedule begins will be the focus of the Golden Eagles and they picked up two big ones in Orlando over the weekend.
When Buzz Williams was announced head coach of the Marquette Golden Eagles, both parties really had no idea what they were in for over the course of the next calendar year. On one hand you had Marquette, a prestigious Big East school with national exposure, hiring a coach from within to take over a team in just his second head coaching job ever. And no, Williams was not coming from North Carolina or Kansas, but rather the University of New Orleans where his Privateers went 14-17 and were hardly anything special.
On the other hand you had Buzz Williams walking into a job that he knew would ignite criticism on why Marquette would pick him as head coach. He also knew that because of this, it would be a monumental task to outperform expectations that others would set for him. Not that Buzz Williams has ever been one to do so, but for everyone else, the future of the program was very much in doubt as well. Losses of Scott Cristopherson and Trevor Mbakwe due to transfers as well as Tyshawn Taylor and Nick Williams de-committing left questions about this year’s recruiting class and where depth on the bench would come from. Even further ahead than that, how Williams would replace the four seniors brought up even bigger question marks about the state of Marquette basketball.
In the days of former coach Tom Crean’s recruiting, there was an uneasy imbalance of players as seen by our seniors last year as well as three juniors coming that will be seniors this year. Combine this with Crean’s inability to pick up on marquee junior college players, and you were left with nothing to help the cause and nothing that would change the imbalance that Marquette’s scholarships had to show for. Mike Kinsella, Jamil Lott, and Lawrence Blackledge were Crean’s JU-CO pickups, and were never world beaters and were not going to contribute in the way that Marquette needed them to.
Fast forward to today and now-second year head coach Buzz Williams has completely changed how Marquette goes about their recruits. Next year’s 2009-2010 recruiting class features six players to replace the four seniors, Mbakwe, and presumably Pat Hazel if he were to transfer. The difference between William’s recruiting and Crean’s recruiting is that this year’s class will feature a variety of ages and classes. It will feature four freshmen in Junior Cadougan, Jeronne Maymon, Erik Williams and Brett Rosebro, a sophomore in Darius Johnson-Odom, and junior Dwight Buycks.
Thinking about the state that Marquette was in when Crean left, a messy situation full of both empty and soon-to-be empty scholarships, looking at what Williams has done in just under a calendar year is remarkable and leaves a whole lot of optimism for next year.
Starting with the young guns, the aforementioned first years give Marquette four freshmen on their roster next year. Maymon is expected to start and Cadougan looks to be the long term solution at the point guard position. Just looking at these freshmen alone would make for an outstanding recruiting class but gives a good solid base for the future, even if Maymon were to leave early for the Association.
Looking ahead to the sophomores for next year, Chris Otule marks the only true freshman to be recruited by Williams after the whole debacle of Crean leaving occurred. He will join Liam McMorrow, coming off his redshirt season on the bench, as well as Johnson-Odom as the sophomores on the team. Again, Williams has recruited excellent balance for the sophomores and, next year when these players are juniors, Monterarle Clark is a junior college transfer that will join them. As the numbers show, Marquette will have three sophomores on the team next year and potentially two rotational players in McMorrow and Johnson-Odom.
Going back to last year, Williams recruited junior college small forward Joe Fulce from Texas and, when Cristopherson transferred, nabbed his teammate Jimmy Butler. Butler proved to be a great role player as the sixth man off the bench while Fulce showed great potential before getting hurt early in the year. The aforementioned Buycks will join the two as juniors on the team in what could be the most productive class next year.
As for the senior class, Lazar Hayward leads the group with David Cubillan and Maurice Acker to form the last class. So all in all, you have four freshmen, three, sophomores, three juniors, and three seniors on a team that, a year ago, was scraping together leftovers from the 2008 recruiting class and preparing to lose four players, including arguably their three best. Also, he found outstanding replacements for the players that did leave. While one can say that Marquette once again could not find a big man in the class, their back-to-back 25-10 seasons should show that they can win with guard play. Williams is already flashing his recruiting powers and is doing so very wisely at that.
Some will say that junior college kids do not make that much of an impact and are more hit-or-miss than high school seniors. While this may be the case, it was pretty much Buzz’s only option given the circumstances he was put in, and he has succeeded by picking up two of the most coveted junior college players out this year. He isn’t filling in spots with mediocre players that will rotate through for two or three years, but rather rotational players that have the capability to become studs in Williams’ run n’ gun offense.
The clock read 0:00, and as much as Buzz Williams yelled, kicked, screamed, and fought it, Maurice Acker wasn’t going to get four free throws. In a two minute span that seemed more like 20 minutes, Marquette went from being up four to down four as they fell to the Missouri Tigers 83-79 in Boise.
The game brought an end to much more than a second round game in the NCAA Tournament, but rather an era at Marquette University and the Golden Eagles program that will not be forgotten for some time.
I’ve only had the privilege of being a Marquette Golden Eagles fan for about a calendar year, but the joy and fantastic memories they have brought to me as a sports fan is insurmountable.
The Golden Eagles’ season started in a conference room in Bloomington, Ind. on April 3 where Tom Crean had just accepted the job as Indiana’s next head basketball coach. Say what you will—that the move was warranted or that he left his seniors out to dry—no matter how you look at it, his leaving hit the Marquette community where it hurt.
Fast forward one week to Apr. 8 and Buzz Williams had taken over the reigns and agreed to become Marquette’s sixteenth head coach in the school’s history.
Fast forward another week and recruit Nick Williams opts out of his commitment to Marquette, and a week after that Tyshawn Taylor had committed to Kansas after originally planning to go to Marquette. In between all this, Scott Cristopherson transferred to Iowa State, leaving the Golden Eagles another man down. All before May!
Buzz Williams and his staff had the opportunity to let this season slip away and start fresh in a year, but with a perfect attitude for winning, Buzz buckled down and assured the team that this year was their year and to make the most of it, literally day-by-day.
Highlighted by three seniors in Wesley Matthews, Jerel McNeal, and Dominic James, the season kicked off with a 95-64 clobbering of Houston Baptist. Marquette struggled to find its identity in losses to Dayton and Tennessee, and entering Big East play, the team was unsure if their undersized roster could get the job done. What they showed over the next two months was that heart is truly measured in intangibles, not inches.
All it took was a pre-game pep talk from Buzz Williams to get his seniors fired up. He let them know they had never started 2-0 in Big East play, and wins over Villanova and Cincinnati followed.
Seven games later, I wonder if Buzz let them know they had never started 9-0 either.
The doubters were there all year, especially after wins versus Georgetown and Notre Dame that don’t look as big anymore. The losses to South Florida and Villanova brought critics in packs, saying that the Golden Eagles just weren’t in that elite “Big Four” in the Big East. As the end of the year rolled around and “the gauntlet” approached, Marquette fans were feeling good that they could take at least the bookends of the five game stretch, Georgetown and Syracuse, and maybe steal one in between.
Well, one broken fifth metatarsal later, the Golden Eagles were looking at a team without its star point guard and without any direction. The gauntlet came and went and, as expected, they struggled mightily without their team leader.
Anyone who doubted the importance of James on the court was suddenly silent, and everyone wondered what was next on the roller coaster.
In the Big East Tournament, a dominating win over St. John’s showed the Big East what this team was capable of, especially on defense, and despite the heart-breaking loss to Villanova, there was a sense of togetherness back on the court that had not been seen since the injury to James.
The roller coaster of a season continued as Marquette drew a No. 6 seed in the tournament versus a little known, 30-win team from Utah State. Lazar Hayward provided us with a little preview of next year as he went off for 26 points and 8 rebounds, while the team’s poise and patience really showed in the last four minutes of the game. Down six, Marquette furiously rallied back with McNeal and Matthews and took the game from the free throw line, connecting on their last 10 from the stripe. A second round match up against Missouri ensued, and while the outcome wasn’t what Marquette fans had hoped for, the ending brought good enough closure for most of us.
The unfortunate loss closed the book on a Marquette team that faced more ups-and-downs than any other team in the nation, and a team that handled it better than any other team in the nation would have.
McNeal went out the way we all wanted him to, matching a career high in points and carrying the team on his shoulders the whole game. Matthews put in 24 points, highlighted by two emphatic dunks that all too well described his nature on the court: ferocity and never-ending competitiveness. James, in an unbelievable return, sparked the team and gave every Marquette fan watching the game chills all over as he subbed in.
I don’t care how many touches he had in the game CBS. I care about the way he carried himself, healed his injury four times faster than expected, and the way he ended his career: bald-headed, wearing No. 1 on the court with his senior brothers. Burke quietly pulled down 10 boards in his last game as a Golden Eagle, seemingly fitting for a guy that has never received the praise he deserved. Just remember who this guy had to go up against over the last four years as the “big man” on the team. We might remember Burke for the times we yelled at him for not holding on to the gosh darn ball, but as a whole he always did what was asked of him.
As I said, I didn’t get to watch these seniors for more than a year, but the mark they left in my heart will be there forever. We will remember these seniors as graduates who kept Marquette’s spot on the map and who didn’t back down in the face of any adversity that came their way. The man who recruited them and had stood by their side for three years was suddenly gone and some guy who had coached New Orleans to a 13-14 record at one point, was taking over. You can bet the NBA looked pretty sweet at that moment for the Big 3.
But the seniors made a pact, whether they knew it or not, to come back and make the 2008 Marquette season one to remember, and boy did they ever.
It doesn’t matter that they only made it past one round in the NCAA Tournament or that they “under-achieved” in some people’s eyes. No one will remember that. What they will remember is Matthews’ unforgettable smile and breakout senior season, James’ ultimate leadership and shutdown defense, McNeal’s record-breaking performances and clutch shooting, and Burke ’s dirty work.
Their legacy will live on as one of the best senior classes to come out of Marquette, but don’t think that their work on the court is done. McNeal, Matthews, and James all have a chance to wind up playing at the next level, and you can bet you’ll get much of the same talent, tenacity, and will to win out of these guys, no matter where they end up.
As for the rest of the Golden Eagles, they have a very tough act to follow. Hayward will lead the troops into battle next year in his senior season and should do a fine job. He played beyond anyone’s expectations this year, and for anyone upset about the line violation at the end of the Missouri game, remember the reason that we moved on and played in that game. Hayward’s 26 points and 8 rebounds paced us against Utah State, and he also kept us in the game in the first half against Missouri. Like he has been all year, he was also given the difficult task of guarding the combination of Leo Lyons and Demarre Carroll, both with size advantages on him. Just as it had been for Burke, Hayward didn’t get the credit he deserved on a guard-oriented Marquette team, but continued to produce regardless of the lack of accolades.
Jimmy Butler will continue to get better, just as he did the second half of the year and will be able to contribute at three spots if he works on his jump shot. Maurice Acker also gained valuable experience when he replaced James in the starting lineup and will use that next year to mentor recruit Junior Cadougan. Jeronne Maymon is the leader of Marquette’s 2009 recruiting class and is a special talent out of high school that Marquette has not seen in a while. Fresh off a state championship, Mr. Basketball from Wisconsin will come in right away for the Warriors.
Don’t get me wrong. Losing the school’s all-time leading scorer along with three other seniors is going to hurt Marquette next year, but if this year’s up-and-down season has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. For now, the four seniors pass the torch to next year’s team and beyond. They have set the bar high, on and off the court, and have forever changed the Marquette basketball program.
On that note, I close the book on this year’s Marquette team and will begin my focus to the NFL Draft and the start of the 2009 Milwaukee Brewers’ season. But before I do, I just want to say thank you one more time to the Marquette seniors. You made 4th and State rock like crazy 18 times this year, and we won’t soon forget what you have done for this program, school, and city.
Good luck in the future, you will always be Warriors.
As Marquette begins the stretch run on one of the most memorable seasons in their school’s history and prepares to say goodbye to seniors Wesley Matthews, Jerel McNeal, Dominic James, and Dwight Burke, it’s hard not to look ahead at the stellar recruiting class that will walk onto campus next year to replace them.
The class is led by 6 foot, 6 inch combo-forward lefty Jeronne Maymon. Maymon is the front runner for Mr. Basketball for the state of Wisconsin and will more than likely come in right away and see major minutes. Maymon has played mostly inside this year, but his coach sites this to the fact that he is the tallest player on the team. Overall on offense, he is a great slasher and finishes with power at the rim and is great in transition, something he noted as a reason why he chose the Golden Eagles. Defensively, he is an excellent rebounder and plays very strong in the post and will contribute right away. He has struggled with grades over the year but I have faith that Buzz is not going to take any bag eggs on the team. Guys like Wesley Matthews and Lazar Hayward have set that standard at Marquette.
Next in line is Junior Cadougan, a point guard from from Canada, who played his ball in Texas. He stands 6’2’’ and weighs in the range of 220 pounds. When I watch Cadougan’s film, I think of Levance Fields. Not only do they have the same body type, but Cadougan plays very physical and seems to always find the open man. He has a nice step back jumper as well as the decent court vision. He sometimes looks to score first and can play out of control, but has a lot of potential. He had an outstanding summer which led to his recruitment from Buzz Williams and he will have the chance to come in and compete for the point guard position next year.
Rounding out the 4-star recruits for this class is Erik Williams, a 6’7” guard-forward from Cypress, Texas. Williams is a product of Tom Crean recruiting who opted to stay with the Golden Eagles after Crean’s departure due to his relationship with current coach Buzz Williams. The one thing Williams does very well is use his speed. With his size, no one expects him to be as fast as he is and he is great in transition offense because of it. He broke his foot last year which took some of the national spotlight off of him, but his combination of size and speed is exactly what Marquette looks for out of its wings. He is more of a product than the other two but could be a key role player for Marquette next year, who will have to go deeper in their roster.
Two other contributors that will help the transition process for Marquette include recruits SG Dwight Buycks, a junior college transfer junior from Iowa, and Brett Rosebro, a PF from Pennsylvania. Buycks’ experience may push him into the starting lineup if he is able to beat out the likes of Williams, Maymon, and potentially Jimmy Butler/David Cubillan. Buycks has an excellent outside shot and Rosebro is a project that Buzz Williams says could be the steal of this recruiting class. The Golden Eagles may also have an ace up their sleeve in power forward Dashonte Riley out of Detroit. Riley originially signed with Georgetown but then backed out of his commitment, citing that he made his decision too early. After his back out, Marquette went hard after the 6’11” forward and must have made an impact. He attended the Marquette-UConn game which had to be a great recruiting tool, and as of March 4th has narrowed his choices down to Marquette and Syracuse. The one thing that helps Marquette is that Syracuse is loaded with young talent in their front court, while the only real big men currently on Marquette’s roster are Chris Otule and Liam McMorrow. It would be a huge improvement on an already stellar class if Riley decides to come to Marquette, but either way this class is shaping up to what could be the foundation of Marquette basketball for a while.
With Tom Crean leaving and three of Marquette’s top four players leaving this year, it was vital for Buzz Williams to come in and make his mark on a program that could have gone either way. He has done an excellent job with the season so far, implementing the run n’ gun offense and letting his players’ athleticism do the rest. But more kudos is due to him based on what he did recruiting this year. I can’t help but picture Golden Eagle fans around Wisconsin, 4 years from now, talking about how much we are going to miss Maymon, Cadougan, and Williams. If the three of them are able to start next year and build the chemistry that our current seniors did, the results could be even bigger than where Marquette stands now. Toss Dashonte Riley into the equation and the possibilities become even bigger. Maymon (46), Cadougan (60) and Williams (99) are, on average, ranked higher than James (61), Matthews (85), and McNeal (99) were. In no way am I saying that at the snap of a finger we are going to see the same results. Our seniors are where they are because of dedication of staying four years, hard work, chemistry, and brotherhood. What I am saying is that the pieces are there and it has me very excited about the state of Marquette Basketball.