Guard and coach reach ‘mutual’ agreement


Former sophomore guard Marshawn Wilson shoots from distance in a 2015 game. Wilson and Head Coach Mark Montgomery came to a ‘mutual’ agreement for Wilson to have a fresh start elsewhere before Tuesday’s game against Ball State University at the Convocation Center.

By Tom Burton

DeKALB Sometimes the reason for a break up is as simple as “It’s not you, its me.”

For former sophomore guard Marshawn Wilson and NIU, this appears to be a strange case where there doesn’t seem to be a reason.

Before Tuesday’s game against Ball State University at the Convocation Center, Mark Montgomery, men’s basketball head coach, announced the Huskies and Wilson have mutually decided to part ways.

It seems strange to use the word “mutually” when the only comment by Montgomery at Tuesday’s postgame press conference appeared to indicate that it was in Wilson’s best interest to leave the team.

“You try to wipe the slate clean and go day-by-day,” Montgomery said. “[Wilson] needs a fresh start, and that’s what we’re going to give him.”

Associate Athletic Director Donna Turner abruptly ended the press conference following Montgomery’s comment, disallowing any follow-up questions.

NIU Media Services released a report from Montgomery before the game against Ball State Tuesday night.

“After meeting with Marshawn, it was mutually decided that the best course of action at this time is for him to have a fresh start with another program,” Montgomery said. “We appreciate Marshawn’s contributions to our program and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”

The statement gives us nothing regarding what happened between the two parties, but it is accurate what Wilson brought to the table on a night-to-night basis.

Wilson, who was a highly-touted recruit coming out of Hill-Murray High School in Minnesota, made an instant impact this past season, averaging 11 points per game and qualifying for the MAC all-freshman team. Wilson also shot a team-high 41 percent from the 3-point line a year ago.

This year has not been the same story.

In 18 games this season, Wilson averaged nearly five points and two rebounds per game and has been given a seemingly permanent role coming off the bench. Wilson’s role on the team appeared to decrease as the weeks continued to elapse.

He only exceeded 21 minutes three times this season, way below this past season when he averaged about 19 minutes per game and made nine starts.

Given the success he had this past year, it begs the question of why his role has been significantly decreased this season.

It could have something to do with the team’s freshman guards, Justin Thomas and Eugene German, who have been significantly better than Wilson has this season. The team began its season with sophomore guard Laytwan Porter assuming the starting point guard duties, but Porter’s reckless, out-of-control play style is not the topic of this column.

It could have something to do with his relationship with Montgomery, as Wilson has been buried on the bench this season, seeing less playing time as the season progressed.

In Montgomery’s defense, Wilson missed two games against Elon University Nov. 25 and University of Illinois at Chicago Nov. 26 due to suspension, Montgomery said. Wilson also missed two more before the start of Mid-American Conference play for undisclosed reasons. Wilson did not see the floor in the past three Huskie games leading up to the contest against Ball State, as the team went 1-2 in that timespan.

Still, nobody seems to know what happened between Wilson and the team to trigger an abrupt move such as this.

This situation draws a common stigma of how professional athletes act and how they respond to criticism, which isn’t well. Think of professional athletes and how they respond to criticism. If a player is asked a question regarding why he or she lost the game, the player would respond with something irrelevant and pointless.

For example, Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson spoke to reporters after the Bulls’ 117-89 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves Feb. 12 and had nothing but obvious statements to say to reporters after the game.

“We’ll figure things out and be ready,” Gibson said, according to “We just got to do the small things.”

This is the kind of information that is being disclosed about Wilson being released from the team. Montgomery called it a “mutual agreement,” but there has to be more to the story, and we want answers.

Wilson could not be reached for comment.