Teammates didn’t see George Marshall’s transfer from Wisconsin coming

MADISON, Wis. — Former Wisconsin guard George
Marshall was usually quiet and introspective, so teammates say it often was
difficult to gauge how he really felt. But even they noticed a recent change in
his reserved demeanor as his playing time dried up and he watched games from
the bench.

“You could kind of tell this past week or two that he’s
been a little down,” Badgers guard Josh Gasser said.

Still, the news that Marshall had decided to transfer after
2 1/2 years in the program came as a surprise to many of his teammates, who
offered their reaction following Monday’s practice — two days after the
announcement was made official through a school news release.

“I wouldn’t say I saw it coming,” Badgers forward
Sam Dekker said. “He was a great teammate and a very supportive guy. A guy
I got along with very, very well. He’s our neighbor over at our apartment, so a
guy that we all got along with very well. He goofed around with us, hung out
with us every day. We’re sad to see him go obviously. He’s a central part of
this team and a guy that’s given us a lot of good minutes. It’s sad to see him
go.”

Marshall was in position to see minutes in a backup role
when the season began. He suffered a concussion during a Nov. 15 practice
before Wisconsin’s game against UW-Green Bay, and he missed the next four
games. That development allowed freshman Bronson Koenig to step in and fill
those minutes. Marshall did not play in the next three games after being
medically cleared to return, while Koenig averaged 11 minutes during that span
as the team’s fourth guard.

Marshall played in only two games this season, averaging
12.5 minutes and 2.0 points.

Gasser said he was surprised about Marshall leaving,
particularly given the timing of his decision. At the time of the announcement
— the morning of Wisconsin’s annual in-state rivalry game against Marquette —
the Badgers were 9-0 and ranked in the top 10 in the country.

“I completely understand where he’s coming from,”
Gasser said. “He wants to play and he wasn’t happy with his minutes.
That’s understandable. You want to play. It just kind of sucks that it happened
during the season, during a nice little run we’re having. But anytime you lose
a brother, a guy you’ve gotten along with so well, it’s tough. It was a tough
day to hear it. But at the same time, you’ve just got to be happy that he’s
doing whatever is best for himself.”

Marshall, a Chicago, Ill., native, took a redshirt season as
a freshman in 2011-12 and drew considerable praise from starting point guard
Jordan Taylor as he battled Marshall on the scout team. Taylor was so high on
Marshall that he once said, “you probably won’t even remember I was here
by the time George gets done. Or maybe even Devin (Harris), too.”

When Marshall began the 2012-13 season, he became only the
second freshman under coach Bo Ryan to start a season opener at Wisconsin.
Harris, a nine-year NBA veteran, was the other. But after six games, Traevon
Jackson replaced Marshall as starting point guard — a role he has held ever
since.

Jackson became one of Marshall’s best friends on the team
but said Marshall did not come to him to discuss transferring.

“George is more of an internal type of guy,”
Jackson said. “He keeps things real quiet. You can’t really tell what he’s
thinking a lot. What I could tell is that he wasn’t, at least from the outside,
he seemed at peace in terms of what he was going to do. Maybe he had made that
decision already, I don’t know. I just know that he seemed pretty content and
he wasn’t too stressed out, which is great.”

For his career, Marshall appeared in 37 games at Wisconsin,
averaging 4.0 points and 1.0 assists. If he transfers at the semester after finishing
his schoolwork, he would be eligible to play next December. Marshall, a
redshirt sophomore, would lose a year of eligibility and have 1 1/2 years
remaining. 

Marshall’s decision to leave opens up a scholarship at
Wisconsin. Badgers associate head coach Greg Gard said there were no immediate
plans to fill that scholarship, but the coaching staff was always looking to
find the right fit for a possible Class of 2014 member. As it stands, 6-foot-8
forward Ethan Happ (Rockridge, Ill.) is the only scholarship player in
Wisconsin’s 2014 recruiting class.

“We have always got antennas up and are always talking
to people watching and following along,” Gard said. “And guys emerge.
There’s guys playing in our league that maybe weren’t on people’s radar when they
were a sophomore or junior but had a breakout senior season or something
happens. …

“It’s very fluid. You just deal with what you can
control and keep moving forward.”

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