MILWAUKEE—Marquette sophomore Jamil Wilson hasn't played an NCAA game since March 11, 2010. To say the time away from the court was ‘difficult' might be a bit of an understatement to Wilson.
The year off also proved to be a learning experience for the six-foot-seven wing. He had several takeaways from his redshirt transfer season.
"Just learning to compete, ring the bell everyday, play to your highest ability because it can be taken away from you," said Wilson. "I lived through a year of it and it wasn't the greatest thing on the earth."
Arguably the biggest learning tool was going up against Jimmy Butler in practice everyday.
"He taught me a lot of things offensively, defensively, as a person, as a player and as a friend," said Wilson.
Since he couldn't make an impact on the court, Wilson became a "student of the game." He said he learned to interpret things in a lot of different ways, watching and correcting mistakes of his teammates.
Just how much will the season of learning translate into success on the court? According to Marquette assistant coach Aki Collins, it is a question that can't quite be answered yet.
"(With) Jamil—how good can he be and what's he going to be" asked Collins. "Is he the 4-7 points per game guy at the University of Oregon or is be a double-figure guy here? If he becomes the person that we need him to be, he gives us a lot of flexibility."
Undoubtedly the transition from watching to playing will come with a little bit of a learning curve. Wilson said he talks with his dad about this all the time and his father's advice has been helpful for him.
"His biggest emphasis is just don't rush anything," said Wilson "(He said) let it come to you. Don't go out and try and impress anyone. Just go out and play, the game will slowly come back to you.
This fall, Wilson has been working on expanding his game in preparation for the season. He primarily worked out with the ‘bigs' in workouts in an effort to expand his game. Being more physical and aggressive was stressed by the coaches as well as finishing around the basket with both hands.
"I've never really played in the post so I think working with them really increased my skill level and the range of positions I can play on the floor," said Wilson.
The versatility and skillset of Wilson could give Marquette the lift it needs to become a conference championship contender this season. Even with the higher expectations, Wilson said he is not feeling the pressure of the team's preseason accolades.
"I'm just ready to go out and play with my team. I'm just here to play and here to win"