It would be best for Donyell Marshall and the UB Bulls if he stays put
Marshall, amid Rutgers and Central Connecticut rumors, should stay put at Buffalo
Nearly every news outlet has squashed the Donyell Marshall-to-Rutgers rumors during the past 48 hours.
There were multiple reports Wednesday, that have now been shot down for the most part, that Marshall, a Buffalo men’s basketball assistant coach, would head to Rutgers for the same position. There are still some reports Marshall is in contention for the Central Connecticut State head coaching opening.
But the recanting of the Rutgers reports is a perhaps temporary sigh of relief for Bulls fans. For Marshall, it should be the final rumor he hears this offseason.
And it should be the only rumor he wants to hear as well.
I don’t understand why Marshall, even with his rich résumé in the NBA, would leave Mid-Major Buffalo just yet. I’ll say that again. Marshall, a 15-year veteran who has played with some of the NBA’s greatest, should stay at a program that reached just its second-ever postseason appearance.
You bet it.
Marshall is just making a name for himself in the college basketball coaching circuit. His past three gigs haven’t been exactly big-time breakthroughs – even Buffalo was a gamble. Marshall joined a coaching staff that had a cavalry of questions heading into the season and possessed a team without a true identity or proven leader.
Marshall was merely learning his new role, like everyone else on the 2015-16 Bulls. He questioned his position on the team for parts of the season, asking himself if he should be there – although his passion kept him here. By the end of the year, he was thanking his fellow coaches and players after a championship win in Cleveland.
He grew with the Bulls. And he should be there to witness the growth even more.
Marshall wants to give back to the game he loves. He doesn’t care about the level of play he’s coaching. Marshall wants to coach players to their full potential.
That’s already at his disposal.
Buffalo returns all but two players next year, including two big-man projects in rising sophomores Nick Perkins and Ikenna Smart. Marshall originally played small forward, then transformed into a stretch-four forward for his three-point abilities.
Marshall was like a poor man’s Anthony Davis, a current NBA star for the New Orleans Pelicans. Both Smart and Perkins fit that bill as well. Perkins broke out in the NCAA Tournament game against Miami for a team-high 20 points. Perkins broke out his arsenal of shooting, rebounding and fast-break ability that Buffalo wanted to see from him the entire season.
Granted, there are no perfect players, especially a freshman forward in a Mid-Major conference. But he’s the perfect canvas for Marshall to work on.
Smart’s game is different than Perkins’ but Marshall will enjoy working with him as well. Smart lines up as a potential star-in-the-making, but foul trouble and shooting have limited him. Marshall was fiery, but controlled at the same time. He could take Smart’s potential through the roof with even one more offseason with one another.
The Bulls also have a seven-footer coming in via the recruiting class and forward Raheem Johnson returning for his redshirt senior season.
And Marshall may leave for that?
Speaking logically, any coach would want to leave the MAC for a higher conference and better pay. Look at Bobby Hurley, the Bulls’ former head coach who left for Arizona State last offseason. I said it before, but Hurley should have waited. One more season with Buffalo and he could have been the replacement for UNLV, Stanford or – dare it say it – the University of Central Florida.
Marshall deserves to be on the coaching block for major programs around the country. His name alone will draw in recruits and his up-tempo presence at practice will make any of his teams better.
But Marshall, as well as head coach Nate Oats eventually, will be in line for bigger and better opportunities. It’s tempting to possibly take a bigger position. But Marshall may be underestimating how valuable Buffalo basketball will be.
This is a team that has made the tournament two years in a row and has made grabbed some national recognition for it. Even when I was watching the game 3,000 miles away in Mexico for spring break, people there were still talking about Western New York.
The Bulls will be better next year, barring injury or unexpected departures – like last season. A deep recruiting class and experience from the best players may even secure Buffalo an at-large bid.
Marshall could be a great head coach one day, but his coaching career is still taking flight.
There’s no reason to leave a program that is finally taking off.