Duane Wilson has played basketball in the Milwaukee area for his entire life and he quickly became a local superstar while doing it. After winning multiple state championships and a very successful career at Whitefish Bay Dominican High School, Wilson has went on to play his college basketball at Marquette. He averaged 11.6 points per game last season as a redshirt sophomore, and coming into this season he is expecting to do big things again.
Stewart: What have you been working on this summer? What parts of your game do you feel like you have improved?
Wilson: I feel like i’m maturing as a player, I became more of a vocal leader. I worked on my ball handling and really just worked on becoming a tougher player. Being able to play through contact. Or when things go wrong with the team, being able to fight through adversity.
Stewart: What personal goals, and what team goals do you have for this upcoming season?
Wilson: My personal goal is to be the best teammate I can be. As for the team goal, just work to be able to make it to the NCAA tournament. If we can make it there, the next step would be to win it all. And of course winning the Big East championship.
Stewart: With Henry Ellenson going to the NBA, do you feel like as an upperclassman you have to step up and be even more of a leader for the team?
Wilson: Well for the past two years i’ve felt like my job, as Coach Wojo always tells me being one of the older guys on the team, but especially with this being my third year playing and being around for four years, that’s almost my responsibility. That’s not something that I should say “That’s my job.” That’s something that I should automatically do. Being a great teammate and helping out the younger guys on the team.
Stewart: Who on the team do you feel like is in for a big season?
Wilson: Jajuan Johnson. I feel like he’s going to have a great year. Towards the end of last year his efficiency and his stats were great. Matt Heldt. He’s been working hard and I feel like he is going to be big for us. I think Sam Hauser is going to have a huge freshman year. When you watch him play, you wouldn’t even know he’s a freshman. He’s just such a smart player and knows the game so well.
Stewart: What are your expectations for the conference this year? Do you think you guys will have a good chance at competing for the Big East Championship?
Wilson: Oh yeah. I feel like we’re going to have a great chance. We’re going to have the opportunity but it’s on us for what we’re going to do with it. Coach is going to put us in the right situations to win games and be one of the best teams in the Big East. But it’s all on us to figure it out and produce on the court.
Stewart: How do you like the new uniforms for this season?
Wilson: Oh man I love the new uniforms. They’re very dope. They got the old school look. It’s a tribute and appreciation to all of the alumni and all the guys that paved the way for us to be here.
Stewart: You’ve spent your entire life in the Milwaukee area, so what does Milwaukee mean to you?
Wilson: Milwaukee means everything to me. This is where I was born and raised, my family is here and it means more to me than just basketball.
Stewart: What did you think about Peter Feigin making the comments that Milwaukee was the most segregated city he has ever seen? Is that something you agree with from your experience here?
Wilson: I wouldn’t personally say that I agree with that. That might be what he has seen, but personally where I grew up being an inner city kid in tough neighborhoods, I feel like it’s not really that segregated. I don’t know what his reasons were for saying that, but every man is entitled to their own opinion.
Stewart: Basketball as a whole is on a large growth of popularity here in Wisconsin from the high school level, all the way up to professionally with the Bucks. What do you think has led to that growth here in the state?
Wilson: Milwaukee has always been a place that has great basketball. But a lot of the great players in the area never make it to the college level, or they make it to the college level and made mistakes, so they weren’t able to get noticed. But Milwaukee has always been a city like Chicago that has great basketball players. We have many great basketball players, it’s just that not everyone makes it out. Whether its because of family, or some people get involved in the streets. But I feel like now that we got a few pros like Dwight Buycks, Diamond Stone, and Kevon Looney in the NBA now it has put us on the map.
Stewart: Speaking of Diamond, who was obviously your teammate in high school, what did you think of him being drafted by the Clippers?
Wilson: I was excited for him. A lot of people thought he should’ve stayed in school, some people thought he wasn’t good enough. So many people had so much hate to a kid that nobody even really knows. Nobody knows where he came from. If you would’ve seen Diamond in sixth grade, you would never think he would be where he’s at today. Hes worked really hard to get to where he is at. I’m so proud of him and I feel like he is in a great situation. Playing under Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin, he’s learning from the best. Diamond is a great learner and listener. He’s always active and eager to learn. So it’s really a great situation for him and he could be one of the most dominant bigs in the NBA in the future. Probably not right now, but later on a few years down the line, he will be mentioned with the top bigs in the NBA.
Stewart: What is it like to play for your hometown college team at the Bradley Center?
Wilson: It’s awesome. Being the hometown kid gives you a whole different feeling. In my situation I didn’t feel any extra pressure, but for other kids there could be a lot more pressure. A lot of people expect big things from you and if things don’t work out, they look at you different. It has its pros and cons, but I feel like I made the right decision in staying home. It was the best decision for me and for my family. My three years that I have played has been great, but the only thing that’s missing has been being able to make the tournament. I feel like my career at Marquette won’t mean anything if I don’t make it to the tournament before I leave.
Stewart: Was there any other schools that you were considering when you were in high school?
Wilson: I was considering Memphis and Missouri, and I had Michigan State, Arizona and a few other schools with interest and offers. But it was really between Memphis and Marquette from the jump. Memphis was my dream school, and Marquette was my hometown school. Those were the two schools I focused on.
Stewart: Is there a different vibe throughout the team now with Coach Wojo, compared to when you were with Buzz Williams?
Wilson: Both of them have a serious approach to the game but their two different type of coaches. So I really can’t compare the two but they are both really great coaches. I never had the chance to actually play under Buzz, but I practiced under him and have been in the locker room with him. They’re two great coaches and they have different philosophies to the game.
Stewart: Who was your favorite player growing up and who is your favorite player now in the NBA?
Wilson: Growing up, I would probably say Ray Allen, Allen Iverson and Kobe. Those were the players that I watched a lot. Now it’s LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Russell Westbrook.
Stewart: What is your favorite game that you ever played in?
Wilson: That’s a tough one. I wouldn’t say I have a favorite game, but I have a favorite tournament. Last year when we went to New York. That was one of my favorite times as a player and just being proud to wear a Marquette uniform. We came from losing a 30 point game to Iowa and getting embarrassed on our home court, to going to New York and playing against LSU with the number one draft pick and upsetting a top 25 team. Then actually going on to win the Legends classic. So I would say that’s probably my greatest memory playing at Marquette because we fought through adversity as a team.
Stewart: What music do you listen to on game days to get you in that zone to play?
Wilson: It depends. I kinda try to do it based on what city we’re in. Let’s say we go to the east coast and play Villanova, we’re in Philly so I listen to Meek Mill. If we’re in New York, I’ll listen to Dave East. It also depends on what kind of mood I’m in. But Meek Mill, Future, Dave East, & Young Dolph are some of my favorite rappers.
Stewart: What is your favorite shoe to play in?
Wilson: That would probably have to be the retro powder blue 10’s. We can’t wear them anymore, because Jordan came out with the rule that they want us to wear the team issued shoe and not the retros. But right now, I’ve been rocking the 31’s that just came out. Russell Westbrook and Jimmy Butler have been wearing them. Those are a very comfortable shoe. You’ll see us on those sometime soon, you’ll probably see them somewhere online too.
Stewart: What is your go-to throwback jersey to wear out in public?
Wilson: I would say Penny Hardaway. I like his jersey. Also, a Jesus Shuttlesworth jersey from “He Got Game” Those are my favorites.
Stewart: Who do you consider your favorite NBA team right now?
Wilson: I wouldn’t say I have a favorite, but I like the Bucks. I’m a Milwaukee kid, so i’m hometown everything. No matter how good, or how bad i’m going to watch them regardless. I go to Bucks games all the time whenever I get the chance too. I like the Cavs too because I like LeBron and they have a great team.
Stewart: Who is the funniest guy on the team?
Wilson: I would have to say Cam Marotta.
Stewart: Who would you compare your game too?
Wilson: That’s tough to say because the people I compare my game too, nobody really knows. There’s players from Milwaukee that I watched growing up, so I can’t really say I would compare my game to any NBA players. I would compare my game to Milwaukee legends. Guys like Dupree Fletcher, he was a legend in Milwaukee and a great high school player. Allan Hanson, he was a player at UWM. Dwight Buycks. Those are guys who I would compare my game too.
Stewart: So in closing, do you have anything you wanna say to the Marquette fans in regard to this upcoming season?
Wilson: I just want to say thank you for sticking with us through all of the tough times. Even the years that we didn’t make the tournament. Just staying loyal and sticking with us and I promise this year we will have big things for you guys. More wins and the NCAA tournament.