What follows is based in the fantasy world of a success-starved and overly optimistic Auburn basketball fan. It's not based on any fact or rumor I've heard. This year's Auburn basketball team is showing signs of being competitive hopes are high. Nick Marshall was a highly coveted basketball recruit coming out of high school. What if, Nick Marshall spent the next three months playing basketball for Auburn as a hobby?
In a way, this fantasy stems from my trouble saying goodbye to a player I've loved watching over the last two years. Nick Marshall was more exciting than Cam Newton in the same way Batman is cooler than Superman. Cam seemed to be immortal. At 6'5" 250, he was faster than anyone bigger than him and bigger than anyone faster than him. Defenders bounced off his chest and when he had to, he could fly. Nick Marshall is Batman. Quiet, stealthy, and just when you had him figured out he'd find some new weapon in his arsenal. Nick seemed human, fallible. But when times were darkest on the Plains, you felt comfortable with either hero coming to the rescue.
2012. Auburn is coming off of the worst football season in modern history. Auburn signed a first year coach who brought in a relatively unheralded three star JUCO hybrid defensive back/quarterback to run his "high school offense." You know the result. That athlete, Nick Marshall, turned into the key to the biggest turnaround in college football history, culminating in an SEC title and coming 13 second away from winning it all.
Fast forward two years. A once proud Auburn basketball program is trying to dig itself out of an NCAA tournament slump that has lasted over a decade. Auburn has added some serious talent through recruiting and transfers and seems to be on the cusp of making an NIT run, but March Madness will be hard to reach. What if the person able to put Bruce Pearl over the top was the same person who brought Auburn a title in 2013?
People forget now how great Nick Marshall was at basketball. Nick was listed as the 118th best basketball prospect in the class of 2011 by Rivals. Nick was recruited to play football as both a quarterback and defensive back but chose to be a DB because he thought it gave him the best chance to be a two sport star at Georgia. Nick played both point and shooting guard and averaged over 27 points per game in his last two high school seasons at Wilcox County. He also played AAU ball with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was drafted 8th overall by the Pistons in 2013. In a high school game, Nick reportedly put up 50+ on Caldwell-Pope. In a game together for their AAU squad, Marshall put up 44 points to Caldwell-Pope's 31. Of course, Marshall's Georgia career ended early and he never dressed for Georgia basketball as he had hoped.
Thanks to YouTube, we have film of Nick playing ball in high school. This one is the best.
And yet another (basketball starts at 4:47):
Right off the bat, Nick solves one of Bruce Pearl's problems: Auburn doesn't have anyone who plays above the rims? Nick Marshall plays above the rim.
As Damian Fishback said of KT Harrell recently, if he's in the building, he's in range.
No, seriously, you need to guard him when he crosses midcourt because that ball may go up.
One on four break? Better call backup:
OK, one more:
The Nick Marshall we see on this video could definitely contribute to this year's team and would push for KC Ross-Miller's starting job within a month of joining this talented Auburn team. Nine Auburn players saw more than ten minutes of action against MTSU. Nick would be in the rotation immediately and would add another offensive weapon that would fit in well with this team's personality.
If Nick picked up basketball as a hobby he could help lead Auburn to new heights in two different sports in consecutive years. I know Nick Marshall has NFL dreams. Mel Kiper has him projected as a fourth or fifth round defensive back selection, a position he was said to have Champ Bailey potential at. But I'm not ready to see Nick's time in an Auburn jersey end. Number 14 was one of the most exciting players ever to wear the orange and blue. Wouldn't it be great if on the twelfth day of Christmas, Nick Marshall gave us the gift of more chances to watch him play?