Ragin' Cajuns point guard options leave lots of ways UL can go

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Options rarely are a bad thing.

As UL prepares to open its 2020-21 basketball season Saturday against Loyola-New Orleans (6 p.m.) at the Cajundome, it appears the Ragin’ Cajuns have plenty of them to play point guard.

With pure point Trajan Wesley still dealing with a longtime lingering foot injury that has him out of practice, that could be critical for coach Bob Marlin’s Cajuns. Because a season ago, when UL was hampered by one injury after another throughout the lineup, testing depth and prompting one makeshift lineup after another, the position often proved problematic.

That shouldn’t be the case this season, Marlin suggests.

Who’ll log the most minutes there, though, is something to be learned during a six-game non-conference stretch before the Cajuns open Sun Belt play Jan. 1 against Texas State.

More:UL's Marlin seeks improvement on both sides of floor

For now, answers are vague.

Cedric Russell can handle the ball,” Marlin said, when asked, with reference to UL’s top returning scorer. “He’s played that position.”

So too, he quickly added, has guard Mylik Wilson, the Sun Belt’s reigning Freshman of the Year.

Other options: Mike Thomas, Bryan Au

But could a newcomer take control, especially with the situation with Wesley – a junior who had 10 starts but was limited to 20 games last season – so uncertain?


Mike Thomas has done a nice job running the point as a freshman (in preseason practice),” Marlin said of the true freshman from Hamilton Christian in Lake Charles.

“Also (juco transfer) Brayan Au has played the point a little bit in practice and we feel comfortable with him there. He does a great job sharing the ball and moving the ball, and he’s all about winning and helping his teammates be successful.”

But Au, a second-team NJCAA All-American last season at Ranger (Texas) College, can, according to Marlin, play any perimeter spot.

Related:SEC transfer Butts, juco transfer Au joining the Cajuns

“Then we’ve got another young man,” Marlin said, “that we like … that has played some point as well.”

That would be walk-on Kentrell Garnett, a freshman from Catholic High of Baton Rouge who Marlin said is still learning the position.

UL's Mylik Wilson, who likely will be on the ball like he was making this pass against Coastal Carolina last season, could log lots of point guard options this season. But the Ragin' Cajuns have lot of options.

Wilson, Russell could be in backcourt together

Potential choices, then, indeed seem plentiful. But specific revelations aren’t, and Wilson was just as equivocal when asked if he’s going to be the guy.

“My next step,” Wilson said when queried, “is to get the offense together – get our team right, make sure everybody is in the right spots.

“I’ve been working on it on it practice, drawing up the plays and getting the guys set. … That’s all I’ve been working on.”

Sure sounds like a point, right?

Actually, Wilson wavered when asked if he’d be playing more point minutes than when he shared the load last season with the likes of Russell, Wesley and others no longer around, including Calvin Temple, who transferred to Jackson State after one year at UL.

Johnson gone:Leading UL scorer enters NCAA transfer portal

More:Two more Cajuns enter NCAA basketball transfer portal

Related:College basketball a big transfer game for Cajuns, others

“Probably a little more,” the Rayville High product said, “but we’ve got guys now, like Brayan (AU), Mike (Thomas) – them guys can come in the game, and I can move, like, to the 3, so I won’t really have to (be) on the ball that much this year.”

What about Russell then? Will he spend more time this season at shooting guard or point? Does it even matter?

“That was part of the plan of my whole recruitment, was to kind of play off the ball, then, by later years, on the ball,” the senior from Peabody Magnet High in Alexandria said.

But, he added, “especially in today’s game, it’s not necessarily a straight position.”

“So I’m not necessarily worried about it, you know?” Russell said. “But I work, and by the graces I kind of do both. ... I really just bought in, bought into the coach’s plan, and I’m just trying to help the best way I can.”

More:UL Cajuns football commit Cejae Ceasar not following dad's LSU basketball footsteps

What's really happening?

That said, who’s been handling the ball the most during offseason workouts?

Russell was forthcoming last week.

“Right now it’s been Mylik (Wilson) and then Mike (Thomas),” he said, “but, you know, it depends on who’s leading the (scrimmage) teams.

“Sometimes I’ll start off the ball, and sometimes I’ll start on the ball, and then Mylik – we really take turns with it, and really just whoever gets it pushes it.

“There’s definitely some chemistry there we built, really from last summer (in 2019), so that’s one guy that I have no problem playing with at all,” Russell added. “So, that’s really just it.”

The point?

Labels may not matter as much as effectiveness, which could be why Marlin doesn’t seem concerned about pigeonholing anyone. Nor does he feel the position is depleted.

“That’s an area,” he said, “we’re gonna have enough depth this year to get through.”

More:Cal basketball transfer Gordon's move to UL is official

More:Ragin' Cajuns sign 6-foot-10 'monster rebounder' Richards

More:Marlin's Cajuns add 6-foot-11 Portland transfer Akwuba