Setting off the holiday fireworks extravaganza in the Marquette Basketball Family on Friday afternoon was Tinley Park (IL) Hillcrest standout Jerel McNeal. The wing man, ranked No. 98 in our most recent Top 100, kick started what could be a trio of Top 100 wings for the Golden Eagles in the Class of 2005.
For McNeal, the decision to attend Marquette after listening to programs like Purdue, Dayton, Miami-FL and Illinois State was an easy one.
"I spent a lot of time thinking and I felt right with the decision I made," McNeal said. "It was the best place for me and hands down there was no other school that recruited me better than them."
A versatile wing player, McNeal is one of the tough guys on the AAU tour. His teams always win, he plays more than one position and his effort is never questioned. If Marquette scores the outstanding three-man class that it's shooting for, McNeal will be remembered as the guy that got it rolling and this future "glue guy" will have already made his first contribution before he even gets on campus.
Just four hours after McNeal pledged allegiance, Richmond (Ind.) High guard Dominic James stepped up and committed to Marquette over Purdue.
In doing so, James became the second Top 100 prospect from the senior class to commit to the Golden Eagles. At last weekend's USA Basketball Youth Development Festival, James was the point guard who helped efficiently guide his team to a silver medal at the event.
James, known for his defensive tenacity, gets to fill the shoes of Travis Diener; the Wisconsin native who captained the ship in Marquette's run to the Final Four in 2003.
They say good things happen in 3s and the commitments by Green, McNeal and James certainly are good news, but there's one more commitment that Golden Eagles are likely hoping four to round out the 2005 perimeter recruiting class.
Wesley Matthews, ranked No. 83 in America by TheInsiders.com, is the final piece to Marquette's perimeter recruiting puzzle. With James at the point and McNeal at the small forward slot, there's still room for Matthews on the wings as Marquette seeks to replace the firepower that is exiting with Diener and Co.
"If get all three of us, and everything is looking up with all three of us as Top 100 in the nation, I think we'd all play well together," McNeal said.