A little over a month ago, Washington State Men’s Basketball got a commitment from 2024 guard Marcus Wilson. Wilson hales from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He played for ABC Prep in high school and with Arizona Unity for EYBL play. He joins Adam Njie in the 2024 recruiting class for WSU, who is also a guard with an intriguing skillset.
WSU seems to be putting a strong priority on getting guards with some two-way ability who they trust to run pick-and-roll. With the injury to Myles Rice last season and the general rawness of players like Dylan Darling and Kymany Houinsou, WSU was limited in terms of players that could comfortably run pick-and-roll. To help compensate, WSU has recruited a guy like Joseph Yesufu this season and Wilson and Njie both profile as guys to fill that role early.
Through 14 EYBL games this summer, Wilson is averaging 23.6 minutes per game, 8.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 turnovers, and 1 steal while shooting 38.7% from the field, 35.8% from deep (67 attempts), and 71.9% from the free throw line (32 attempts)
Wilson’s main strength is his ability to generate paint touches. He explodes out of moves in a blinding way and he only needs to hit one-move to get downhill. A single hard cross or a hesitation is all it takes for Wilson to dust a defender on the perimeter.
The explosion out of moves combines with gliding stridelengths to allow him to get into the paint quickly. Once in the paint, he can get up remarkably fast.
His low-release point does concern me in terms of his ability to hit tough, contested outside shots, but he compensates for that with comfortable range and having a quick-enough release to punish unders. While he’s not someone who projects to be a bomber from outside (in the vein of a Tyrell Roberts or Isaiah Watts) he does seem to be a comfortable pull-up shooter and above-average spot-up guy to me.
Even if the jumper never truly comes around, I buy Wilson as a slasher from the guard spot. While his listed height of 6’4 seems a bit much, he is still definitely bigger than most college PGs and his ability to finish over and around likesize and smaller players will translate comfortably.
Wilson is a bit of an odd finisher because he has the athleticism to finish above the rim, but he’s not throwing down highlight dunks. He just seems to glide up and down the floor, never overexerting himself for a highlight but always managing to effectively outjump or outreach a defender.
I do worry about how the finishing might look in more cramped floors. In his Grind Session tape, he was able to dominate athletically and consistently beat defenders, but he has struggled more at the rim in EYBL play. Athletic bigs can take him out of it, and when he gets sped up, his control at the rim can falter.
Wilson is at his best playing with pace. He excels as a pick-and-roll operator, especially with good spacing. He can get to the rim and leverage a rolling big to finish, keep defenders on his back and hunt floaters in the mid-range, or punish bad unders with a pull-up 3. His versatility in pick-and-roll could make him a potent guard scorer in time.
There are a lot of little nuances to pick-and-roll that Wilson has to add, but the bones are there. He could set-up screens a little better or be more reactive, but there is a lot to build on there. In some ways, he reminds a bit of a bigger Dylan Darling as a pick-and-roll player, but hopefully the threat of his jumper actualizes sooner.
The thing that will really swing Wilson’s upside is the playmaking for others. The worry with his passing is that he is too predeterminitive; constantly deciding where to go with the ball before making a move rather than reacting to what the defense gives him. He also picks up the ball in bad spots constantly, which forces him to throw some no-hope passes.
However, the positive is how willing he is as a playmaker and the inklings of some manipulation. Wilson has the hard part down, he can get to the hole and shift defenses, and he has started to be able to make some solid kickout reads from that. He loves to throw one-handed whip passes and his control on passes is solid. While not yet a great passer, Wilson has the chops to develop into a plus playmaker over the course of his college career.
This is an under the radar, but solid, grab for Smith and staff. While currently unranked, Wilson has played like a three-star guy over the past couple of months, and his game is solid. The best thing about WSU’s staff is that they trust their instincts on guys, and usually it works out. There have been some misses, but they have also grabbed some super underranked players and gotten great development out of them.
Wilson could play as a freshman depending on how the roster shakes out, but he projects more as a redshirt or limited minutes guy early. I expect Njie to start or be a 6th-man as a freshman and Wilson will likely slot behind him in the rotation at the very least. However, by his sophomore or junior season, he projects as someone who could play a starter role. Someone who can run a high-volume of pick-and-roll efficiently, get to the rim, and space off-the-ball is a perfect cog for this offense.
Wilson is one in a group of guys that WSU has recruited with the clear goal of getting back to their pick-and-roll style. Last season, the Cougs were forced out of that style thanks to Myles Rice’s injury and a lack of alternative options there. Smith and staff are clearly most comfortable running spread pick-and-roll and they are making concerted efforts to make sure they can do that again. Expect the recruiting to constantly be built around elite roll-men, pick-and-roll playmakers, and shooting wings for the forseeable future.
For a fun exercise, I wanted to give y’all a look at how I build my notes when scouting. Here, I watched this game, and took these notes. I tend to start a new section whenever something else doesn’t fit and I try to let the positives and negatives speak for themselves within a section.
- Solid vertical pop
- Sub-elite burst
- Some real balance issues, specifically when trying to create negative momentum right-to-left
- Super easy at rim explosion, gets his hands above the rim w/ little load
- Low-release, splayed feet
- Range & touch look solid
- Definitely willing to take them on tough pull-ups & step-backs
- Release point would indicate a one-motion J but it is actually a bit more of a 1.5. Wouldn’t call it a hitch but it is not as smooth as a one-motion and the pause at his chest before the rise is more reminiscent of a Dame Lillard J than a Steph Curry one
- Solid off-hand, especially when he can extend it above the rim
- Reactive and versatile in terms of his ability to manufacture and exploit angles
- Nice euro-step/look-offs at the rim
- Little bit contact averse
- Floater game looks comfortable off one or two feet
- Reactive handle in general
- Seems fairly right-hand dominant
- Still learning to play w/ pace
- Good right-handed passer
- Predetermines a lot of reads
- Nice use of hesitations and size-ups prior to drives, only needs one move to beat a defender and get downhill
- Handles well in tight spaces
- Kills dribble in bad spots and throws some very annoying turnovers
- Pretty solid screen nav
- Not much of a factor in help
- Plays in a lot of junk D
- Solid instincts in passing lanes but can be over aggressive
So there you have it- a look into Wilson, and my thought process on how I categorize a recruit. This is an exciting grab for Smith and staff, and I’m excited to see how he develops! Go Cougs!