MILWAUKEE – Derrick Wilson was thrust into the spotlight before preseason practice even started.
Want to be the point guard at No. 17 Marquette? Get used to the pressure.
The Golden Eagles open the season Friday night against Southern with Wilson presumably inheriting the point guard job held more than capably last season by Junior Cadougan.
"You've got to be one of the hardest working guys on the team every day," Wilson said. "You've got to be ready every day, mentally and physically. It's a hard thing to explain."
Last month at the team's media day, on the day preseason practice started, coach Buzz Williams talked at length of building trust with Wilson. It's a natural inclination given the point guard position is often considered the coach's eyes and ears on the floor.
Especially with four freshmen joining a team picked by Big East coaches to win the reconfigured conference.
"You've got to make sure that people are where they're supposed to be," Wilson said. "I know I may know it, but I know the other kids may not know it. I'm speaking up for them."
Wilson averaged 13 minutes and 1.1 points last season. The Golden Eagles didn't need him much with Cadougan running the show, plus Vander Blue and Trent Lockett. Lockett was a senior, and Blue left a year early for the NBA draft.
Now the 6-foot-1 junior is playing the point nearly every possession in practice. Williams mixes and matches the squads, but whatever team that has Wilson wins.
Wilson's playing time might be partly out of necessity too given freshman point guard Duane Wilson (no relation) is out with a stress fracture in his left leg.
"He's trying really hard, wanting to do right. He's starting to ask quarterback-like questions, like 'When this happens, what am I supposed to do,'" Williams said.
The returning strength for Marquette is in the frontcourt. Six-foot-7 senior Jamil Wilson led the team in 3-point shooting last season (36 percent), and 6-8 Davante Gardner averaged 11.5 points and 4.8 rebounds.
Sixth-year center Chris Otule (5.1 points) provides steady veteran leadership.
"I think it takes a lot of pressure off all the guards," Derrick Wilson said about the presence in the frontcourt.
Williams said the only starter that he's settled on for Friday night is Otule. Otherwise the other spots are up in the air — though really Derrick Wilson seems like the only true option at the point.
Just like in practice.
"Change the team, change the lineup, mix and match: Derrick's team wins," Williams said.
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