After three years with the Lehigh men’s basketball team, senior guard Marques Wilson is entering his final season as a Mountain Hawk. This time, however, he stands alone as the only remaining player in his class.
Wilson entered his freshman year accompanied by three other players in the class of 2021. Due to the transfer of guard Caleb Bennett and roster departure of forward Shane Acoveno after the 2018- 2019 season, coupled with the transfer of center James Karnik after the 2019-2020 season, Wilson is now the most experienced player on the team.
Wilson faces a new set of expectations when it comes to being a leader for his teammates. With 11 underclassmen on the roster and COVID-19 bringing uncertainty to the season, Wilson has taken it upon himself to keep his team focused on success.
“We all view Marques (Wilson) as a very dedicated guy to the program, being that he’s the only one in his class that hasn’t left,” said sophomore guard Reed Fenton. “Obviously, with COVID-19 going on, it’s been hard for us to be able to get together and workout. But when we do, Marques is always there and challenging us.”
Assistant coach Quinn McDowell said Wilson sets the tone for the rest of the team and competes at a high level. Being the eldest player on the team, his coaches are relying on him to lead by example and raise the level of competition each day.
“I want to be the senior I wish I had when I came to Lehigh.”
Although Wilson said he is disappointed to lose the players in his class, he believes that being a senior is just a label when it comes to leadership on the team.
“Just because the juniors are not seniors and the sophomores are not seniors does not mean that they are not important leaders on the team,” Wilson said.
The biggest challenge he has faced in preparation for the season, Wilson said, is the different situations COVID-19 created for his teammates while training this summer.
“I’m from Oklahoma where everything is open, but a lot of my teammates are from places where gyms and parks are not open to train for the season,” Wilson said.
These circumstances forced Wilson to get creative in the ways he helps the younger players, particularly the freshmen, prepare for the season.
Wilson said he’s done this through investing in relationships with the younger players, whether in-person or over the phone.
“I want to be the senior I wish I had when I came to Lehigh,” Wilson said.
Wilson said this means taking the lessons he has learned in his three seasons and passing them on to the underclassmen. He hopes he will be able to earn the trust and respect of the freshmen and ensure they are well equipped to play at a collegiate level.
Individually, Wilson has high expectations for his play this season. He said he has his eyes on winning the Patriot League and being adaptive to ensure his team can achieve that.
McDowell has no doubt Wilson will be able to be a key player this season.
”We believe that Marques can be one of the best players in the Patriot League on both ends of the court,” McDowell said.
Wilson said he has aspirations of continuing to play basketball after college, and he said he believes that playing four years of collegiate basketball has gifted him the tools for success.
From being able to handle criticism to staying dedicated to his team for four years, Wilson said he knows these skills will translate after college.
As of now, a decision on the 2020-2021 Patriot League basketball season has not been announced. Last month, the NCAA announced seasons for men’s and women’s basketball Division I teams can begin on Nov. 25.