Marquette Rewind - Michael Wilson Part Of Guard-Rich Tradition At MU
Feb. 8, 2010
Milwaukee - Any attempt at selecting an all-time Marquette team inevitably ends up a little top-heavy with guards: Dwyane Wade, Butch Lee, Dean Meminger and Doc Rivers would make anybody's list.
Overlook Tony Smith and Jerel McNeal at your peril. Travis Diener has a Final Four on his resume, as does Marcus Washington. Dominic James and Wesley Matthews helped with the transition to the BIG EAST Conference, a program upgrade.
Lloyd Walton and Sam Worthen made preliminary stops in junior college, which limited their Marquette careers to three and two years, respectively, but each was an impact player for the then-Warriors, as was fellow two-year man Jim Boylan.
Can Michael Wilson get a little love? At least as one of Marquette's more underrated players?
Wilson, a rangy 6-foot-4, 175-pound "combo" guard from Memphis, was a Warrior from 1978-82, teaming in the backcourt with Worthen his first two years and Rivers his last two. If that made him a second banana, he was highly effective in the role; Marquette was 88-36 in Wilson's four seasons and made four-straight NCAA tournament appearances.
"Mike was a really good player for us and a great guy," says Hank Raymonds, who was Wilson's coach. "He played a very well-rounded game."
Wilson, now 50, has made his home in the Atlanta area for the last 27 years. Some of his best memories are of Marquette's rivalry with DePaul, including a rather intense introduction to it via the Blue Demons' 61-60 victory at Alumni Hall in March 1979.
"That little gym was a fun place to play -- it was like high school with the people right on top of you," Wilson recalls. "It took me a while to get used to the bigger arenas."
Marquette and DePaul met twice in Wilson's freshman season, and the second game isn't such a nice memory. The Blue Demons overcame a seven-point deficit in the final five minutes and beat the Warriors 63-56 in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament's West regional. In the midst of DePaul's comeback, an offensive-foul call against Wilson negated a Marquette basket and was one of the game's pivotal plays.
The Demons would go on to beat UCLA in the regional title game and reach the Final Four, where they lost to Indiana State in a prelim to the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson showdown.
"That was not a foul, and I say that to this day," Wilson says. Evoking Marvin Hagler's infamous loss to Sugar Ray Leonard six years later, he adds, "I got robbed."
Wilson averaged 10.9 points, 3.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals over his 119-game college career. He was a 50.9 percent shooter -- outstanding for a guard -- and was Marquette's career leader in steals (272) until McNeal eclipsed him last season.
After a senior year in which Wilson averaged 16.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.0 steals, the Cleveland Cavaliers picked him in the third round of the 1982 NBA draft. He would play in 32 games over the next three seasons with the Cavs, the New Jersey Nets and the Atlanta Hawks before deciding to stay home and raise his family.
The Wilsons have four children ranging in age from 12 to 27. Michael is an executive with Federal Express, working in operations, "making sure those packages get to you on time."
Wilson says he keeps in touch with several former teammates, "and I talk to Coach Raymonds all the time." Marietta, Ga., is SEC/ACC country, and BIG EAST news travels slowly. During a recent phone conversation, a caller who was watching the game told him about the Golden Eagles' two-point win at UConn, and Wilson was glad to hear it -- "They've had a lot of close losses this season."
Obviously, Marquette still means a lot to him.