Marquette Golden Eagles head coach Buzz Williams isn’t afraid of taking a chance on a player others have overlooked.
Williams has developed a trend at Marquette that has seen junior college transfers make an impact for the Golden Eagles. Coaches in power conferences might take on a few junior college transfers in there time with a school, but usually tend to shy away from them due to the problems that could arise with attitude or academics.
Williams on the other hand doesn’t shy away from these players and in fact, sees a lot of value in what they can bring to his program. In his five years with Marquette, he’s had five junior college transfers.
“I’m a JUCO transfer so I probably have the perspective that a lot of people don’t have on those guys,” Williams told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Those guys include some of the best players to suit up for the Golden Eagles in recent years, players such Jae Crowder, Darius Odom-Johnson, Jimmy Butler, Joe Fulce and Dwight Buycks.
Crowder was last year’s Big East player of the year averaging 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.1 assists per game. He was a second round selection of the Dallas Mavericks this past June and is expected to see significant playing time for player gone late in the draft.
Butler played three seasons with Marquette, averaging 15.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his senior year. He was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, but more importantly managed to graduate on time as he never dropped a class.
Johnson-Odom is another player who managed to graduate on time with Marquette. He played three seasons with the Golden Eagles and saw his numbers increase across the board each year. He’d finish his career averaging 15.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists, good enough to be drafted in the second round last June.
Fulce didn’t have the career people expected he would due to injuries that severely limited his time on the court. Regardless, Williams considers him the toughest player he’s ever coached and credits Fulce for being a huge part of Marquette’s culture during his time with the program. Fulce would go on to graduate from the university, as well.
Buycks was the first player from Milwaukee to join Marquette in quite some time. He joined the team during a rebuilding year helping replace the loss of the “three amigos” Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews and Dominic James. He joined the team as a junior when the team was predicted to finish 12th in the conference. In his senior year he helped the team advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Williams has proven he can find the diamonds in the rough.
“I have never tried to be somebody I’m not,” Williams said. “If you looked at the totality of the people I’ve hired and the people who have signed, they don’t necessarily have a trajectory that says, yes, I’m on my path to Marquette. My career path does not say that. So I do like to infuse our roster and our coaching staff with guys who are unbelievably hungry. I think that once you are hungry and you eat, you’re never full. In some demented way, that’s how I operate.”
With the Big East undergoing massive changes, Marquette is one of the programs being looked at to step up and help keep the conference competitive in future years.
If Williams can continue to find players who are hungry, that won’t be a problem for the Golden Eagles.