Kentucky Basketball Recruiting Spotlight: Marquis Teague

Vitals

Name: Marquis Teague
Position: PG
Measurables: 6'2", 170 lbs
High School: Pike (Indianapolis)
AAU: Spiece Indy Heat
Recruiting Rankings: 5*/5th (Rivals), 5*/7th (Scout), 5*/7th (ESPNU)
Accolades: McDonald's A-A, Nike Hoop Summit Participant, Jordan Brand Classic Participant, Parade 4th Team A-A, Naismith POY Finalist, USA U-17 Gold Medal Winner

Recruitment Overview

Offers: Cincinnati, Indiana, Louisville, Ohio State, Purdue
Committed: 4/22/10
Profiles: ESPN | John Clay | SLAM | A Sea of Blue 1 2 3

Getting a commitment from Marquis Teague was an uphill battle for Kentucky and John Calipari. The first giant, Wake Forest, fell easily by the wayside. The Demon Deacons are the alma mater of Marquis' brother, Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague. However, Marquis never looked likely to follow in his brother's footsteps, and Wake wasn't among Teague's finalists. Next came the basketball-rich Hoosier State powers, Indiana and Purdue. While the in-state programs offered the Indianapolis native, Teague seemed destined to take his talents to the bluegrass.

But the color of choice for a long time appeared to be Louisville red, not Kentucky blue. A few factors were working in the Cardinals' favor. First, Marquis' father, Shawn Teague, had played for Cardinals coach Rick Pitino when Pitino headed Boston University. Louisville, with Pitino at the helm, was one of the initial teams to show strong interest in young Teague. Pitino even went a step further, hiring former Pike assistant Shabaka Lands as a Cardinal special assistant. Yet when Teague announced his commitment in April 2010, Teague shocked Cardinal nation when he verbaled to Kentucky.

In retrospect, the decision to commit to the Cats seems obvious. If you're a top flight point guard that wants to make it to the NBA, and John Calipari is knocking on your door, it behooves you to answer. After all, a track record of Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, and Brandon Knight is the ultimate recruiting tool.

Prior to the 2011 NCAA Tournament, it was no guarantee that Knight would be a one-and-done. That never deterred Teague. He signed his letter of intent in November 2010, and he was still saying all the right things come April. As Knight struggled with his decision to turn pro, Teague stated that he'd welcome the chance to team with Knight in Kentucky's backcourt. As we know, Knight ended up getting drafted eighth overall, and the keys to the Kentucky freight train have been handed to Teague. Combine Marquis' talent and the "Kentucky Effect," and there's no reason to think Teague won't make it "five for five." In lottery-bound points, that is.

Strengths

Quick and long. If you're thinking that sounds like Calipari's point guards of years past, you're right. Teague is an absolute terror in the open court, with a "0 to 60" type acceleration that will cause flashbacks to John Wall (for an example, see the 2:50 mark of his Pike mixtape below, then keep watching for a sick dunk at the 3:28 mark). His highlight clips show a propensity to enjoy stringing along his defender with unbelievable handles. Many of his highlights start with a lull, only to morph into a wicked crossover and bucket. With a blindingly fast first step, Teague is at his best bullying his way to the rim. Assuming he can hit free throws, he should draw his fair share of points from the charity stripe.

As a defender, Teague should be able to use his quickness and reach to pester opposing guards. Given Calipari's insistence on suffocating defense, this should quickly become a strength for Teague. On opponent's missed shots, he will look to break in transition for easy buckets. He appears to have great court vision in full court mode, and is also a willing passer in half court sets.

Oh, and if you enjoyed John Wall draining the game-winner in his first game in a Kentucky uniform, or Brandon Knight's dagger against Ohio State in the Sweet 16, you'll absolutely love Teague's first highlight video below. Dude wants the ball in his hands come clutch time.

Weaknesses

While quite a handful of plays on the mixtapes show Teague hitting outside jumpers, his ability to score from the perimeter is suspect. He displayed a distinct deficiency in perimeter shooting on the post-season all-star circuit, showing a lack of confidence and touch when launching from deep. Ordinarily, it would make sense to zone or sag off such an explosive dribbler that has problems shooting. However, Kentucky will surround Teague with a pair of deadly marksmen in the backcourt in Doron Lamb and Darius Miller. Zoners beware.

There's also much publicity that states Teague is much better in transition than when asked to run half-court sets. While he may still have a ways to go in becoming a "pure" point guard, Teague is no slouch in the half-court. In the Jordan Brand Classic, for example, Teague was arguably the best floor general on the court. Certainly, he performed better than his starting counterpart, Myck Kabongo, who is widely praised for his half-court leadership.

Like any young point, Teague will have to adjust to both the talent and athleticism increase at the collegiate level. With equally gifted athletes filling out Kentucky's roster, Teague will need to learn to trust his teammates and not rely solely on his own athletic prowess to win games.

Kentucky Expectations

"Who is the skinny kid who never makes mistakes? From that point on, that was the point guard I wanted." Those were John Calipari's words about his first time seeing Marquis Teague. And in John Calipari we trust.

After running an inside-out offense through DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall in year 1, and a pick-and-roll offense with Brandon Knight in year 2, Calipari finally has his prototypical point guard to run the famed Dribble-Drive Motion Offense (DDMO). Scroll through Teague's highlight clips and there is situation after situation where Teague beats his man off the dribble in one-on-one situations. If he can develop even an adequate 3-point shot, Teague will be an extremely dangerous offensive weapon. As it is, he shouldn't have many problems scoring from the free throw line in.

Where he'll be asked to improve is becoming a team leader and getting his teammates involved in the offense. To that end, it may be fun to experiment with Teague in the pick-and-roll offense. Given Teague's ability to explode with the ball, he should be that much more dangerous with a screener. Further, Kentucky's roll call of big men, such as Anthony Davis and Terrence Jones, are capable shooters that can screen, handle, and shoot from the perimeter. That flexibility opens up options for Teague, and he'll need to properly steer the reins of the offense for Kentucky to truly thrive.

Teague should immediately step into a starring role as the starting point guard. Returning two-guard Doron Lamb will spell Teague as the backup 1, but it would be a shock if Teague didn't meet and exceed the expectations set by his lofty high school ranking. If someone wants to wager that Teague isn't lottery-bound after one year, I'll gladly book it, and I bet Coach Cal would as well. Here's hoping he leads the Cats in another Final Four run along the way.

Video Evidence

Teague's Game-Winner in the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star Series (6/10/11)

Pike HS Mixtape (2011)

Spiece Indy Heat Mixtape (Summer 2010)

Boo Williams Invitational Nike EYBL (April 2010)

Previous Spotlights

Anthony Davis

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