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Big East Player Profile: Duane Wilson

Duane Wilson burst onto the Big East scene in 2014-15. After being named to the All Big East Rookie team, Wilson hopes to lead a young but talented Marquette team back to the Big Dance in his sophomore season.

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

On the surface, Marquette's 2014-15 season was a disappointing one for a program that had been consistent during its time in the Big East.

The Golden Eagles went 13-19 in head coach Steve Wojciechowski's first season with the program, including a 4-14 record in conference play. Wojciechowski's team never seemed to be at full strength, as the team dealt with a myriad of injuries and transfers throughout the year.

On the other hand, their limited rotation presented plenty of opportunities for their younger players to gain experience at the collegiate level, most notably Duane Wilson. The redshirt freshman was thrown into the fire from the start, as he was one of only three players to play in all 32 of MU's games.

After reaching double digits in scoring in three of his first six games, Wilson exploded for a 30-point performance against Tennessee in late November. In 31 minutes, Wilson shot 9-for-17 from the field, including 5-of-9 from three, making seven of his eight free throw attempts along the way.

If this performance established nothing else, it was that Duane Wilson can score in bunches.

However, for all of his flashes of brilliance, Wilson's season came with plenty of growing pains. He followed his breakout performance against Tennessee by shooting 1-for-9 against Wisconsin, although it''s hard to knock a young player for a poor performance against one of the best defenses in the country.

While consistency was an issue for him, Wilson demonstrated an ability to be a high usage player for a team that lacked offensive weapons. He finished the season second on the team in scoring with 11.9 points per game, despite shooting 39 percent from the field. He also displayed an ability to get to the free throw line, as he lead the team with 3.9 free throw attempts per game.

Wilson's explosiveness was not limited to the offensive side, as he provided MU with the tenacious on-ball defense that the program has come to be known for. Wilson averaged 1.2 steals per game in 2014-15, highlighted by his five-steal performance against Alabama A&M.

Moving into the 2015-16 season, many expect Wilson to take over more of a point guard role for Marquette, but his coach doesn't necessarily see it that way.

"I see him as a guard," Wojciechowski said in March. "One of the best things Duane does is score, so I don't want to put him in a box and say, 'You have to do these three things' when he's capable of doing eight things. Duane's a guard."

This is rather refreshing to hear from a coach, who can all too often try to fit a player into their system, rather than molding their system around their player's talents. Wilson has the ball handling skills to play the point, but he is too explosive of a scorer not to be held to a distributing role.

Sure, Wilson looked out of control at times last year, as he took plenty of contested shots that had Marquette fans shaking their heads. But he also possesses the ability take over games with his streaky scoring and pick-pocketing prowess.

If he can become a more efficient offensive player, expect Duane Wilson to soar to even greater heights in his sophomore campaign, as his maturation along with an impressive recruiting class give Marquette a much more promising outlook for 2015-16.