Trent Lockett may be the key addition to the Marquette team this season, but the two freshmen for the Golden Eagles will be ready to make an impact right away.
Jamal Ferguson and Steve Taylor both bring impressive skillsets to Buzz Williams’ team and will be plenty capable of contributing to Marquette.
Ferguson comes from Maury, Va., and is the lesser heralded of the two true freshmen. He was an honorable mention all-state player by VirginiaPreps.com, and was second team all-region. Ferguson averaged 17 points, eight rebounds, and three assists for Maury High School, and was recruited consistently by head coach Buzz Williams.
Ranked 134th in the country by Rivals.com, Ferguson said he knew Williams was someone he would like to play for since the day he started recruiting him.
“He was a very cool coach,” Ferguson said. “He kept in touch with me and has been there for me. I could talk to him about anything.”
If Ferguson plays this season, it will be because of his intensity and ability on defense. While true freshman haven’t played much under Williams, the size and length Ferguson possesses could lead him to getting some minutes.
“I’m going to say right now,” Ferguson said, “I think I can help the team with my defense.”
Taylor comes to Marquette with much more hype and anticipation than Ferguson, ranked in the top-100 by nearly every recruiting site.
Coming from Simeon High School in Chicago, Taylor knows what it takes to win. He won three straight state championships there, and he played with top recruits in the class of 2013 Kendrick Nunn and Jabari Parker, who is the consensus No. 1 recruit in the country. Derrick Rose also went to Simeon, so there’s a long pedigree of success that goes with playing there.
That definitely helps the transition to college for Taylor, and he says the hard work at Marquette was aided a bit by playing at such a high-profile high school.
“It got me used to it because at Simeon you have to work hard to get what you want,” Taylor said. “Once I got here it was second nature how hard they work. But it was hard. Coming here to work, it’s like three times harder than high school.”
At 6-foot-7, Taylor creates match-up problems for anyone on the court. The natural small forward can play comfortably all over the court both offensively and defensively.
Offensively he can post up and shoot on the perimeter, while defensively he can present difficult match-ups with his length.
“My position is with shorter guys,” Taylor said. “So I can post them up, or I can take bigger guys to the perimeter and work like that.”
Rebounding is one of Taylor’s strengths, as well, and is one of the skills that he had to use at Simeon. With the talent around him, Taylor found himself in the paint a bit more than usual.
“He’s a good player,” redshirt senior center Chris Otule said. “He’s really energetic, and a very good rebounder, and a good finisher around the basket.”
While both have potential to be impact players for the team in the future, Taylor has a more realistic chance to play significant minutes this season.
With players like Trent Lockett, Vander Blue and Todd Mayo already at shooting guard, Ferguson will have to earn his minutes, and if he does it will be with his defense. But with hustle, effort and defensive intensity, anyone can play for Buzz Williams. Expect to see that from these two freshmen this season when they’re on the court.