Badgers teammates didn’t see Marshall’s transfer coming

Former Wisconsin guard George Marshall, a redshirt sophomore, played in two games this season, averaging 12.5 minutes and 2.0 points per game.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

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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