Jays' Marcus Foster primed for big finale

Hardly anything in life goes as planned, and no one knows that better than Marcus Foster.

The 2017-18 season will serve as a curtain call for Foster, one of Creighton's top basketball talents in recent history. But something you might not know is how he got there. 

Foster's career has been a roller coaster since his freshman year. Out of high school, Foster was relatively unknown. He was a top 150 recruit, sure. But he was ranked just No. 13 on the top recruits coming out of the state of Texas.

The 6'2, 185-pound guard was recruited heavily by Creighton, but ultimately he decided to sign with Bruce Weber's Kansas State Wildcats.  

Foster hit the ground running, leading the Wildcats in scoring with 15.5 points per game and was named second-team all-Big 12 his freshman season.

But during his sophomore season, his attitude started to change. Foster and Weber butted heads throughout the 2014-15 season which ultimately led Foster's dismissal from the team.

"I got cocky. I thought I had it," Foster said in a 2016 interview with ESPN. "I want to get better as a basketball player, but also as a person."

Foster then decided to take his talents to Omaha for a second chance. Creighton head coach Greg McDermott was already familiar with Foster, and he felt like this was his chance to start over. 

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Foster had to sit out the 2015-16 season. He was allowed to practice with the team, but could not play or travel. 

After arriving at Creighton, Foster suffered an MCL injury that put him out of practice for two months. 

"It was hard for me," Foster said. "It was just rough. I was thinking I had made a mistake transferring."

Once the MCL injury healed and he was able to get back to playing basketball, Foster realized how much he could benefit from the season of training.

"After I got back and really put in the time, I got so much better," Foster said. "Working out with all of the coaches and being able to work on my game, both offense and defense. It was just good for me to sit out and I understand the game more because I had to go to all of the games and actually watch.”

In February of 2016 was when both Foster and McDermott truly realized that his decision for a fresh start in Omaha was the right choice. 

"Coach Mac was just telling me how much better I looked, and my game was just right where I needed it to be," Foster said. "It was exciting because the season was about to end so it was getting close to where I was officially eligible.”

Both he and McDermott knew his game was fine-tuned, sharp and ready for some in-game action. And boy were they right.

Foster burst onto the scene at Creighton like he was shot out of a cannon. In the Jays' first five games, Foster averaged 18 points per game, including a 25-point performance against Ole Miss in the Paradise Jam Championship.

"I told myself the first five games are the most important for me because not playing a whole year, I’ve got to get back on the scene and really get my game back going," Foster said. "With the teams we played it was a good chance for me to be able to have a good year.”

Foster's success only continued from there on out as Creighton got out to an 18-1 start with their lone-loss coming at the hands of the top-ranked Villanova Wildcats.

But another setback was coming. On January 16, 2016, the Jays' starting point guard and leader Maurice Watson Jr. tore his ACL during their matchup with No. 22 Xavier. 

After an 18-1 start, Creighton had to adjust on the fly. Following Watson's injury, the Jays won just five of their final 12 games of the regular season.

However, Foster said he thinks this gave younger guys on the team an opportunity to grow and mature. He also said it made him a better player, and Watson doesn't let him forget that.

"Maurice used to always laugh at me like ‘you’re welcome that I got hurt’ because it made me such a better player because I actually had to do more," Foster said. "So with that, it made us all prepare for this season. Guys like (Tyler Clement), Davion (Mintz) and Martin (Krampelj), they had to play more minutes and so now it’s preparing them for this year because they got a little bit of experience last year.”

As a team, the Jays clawed their way into the BIG EAST Tournament finals with the help of a game-winning three pointer from Foster in the semifinals against Xavier.

After the season, Foster was a unanimous choice for the All-BIG EAST team, joining Doug McDermott as the only two Bluejays to receive that honor.

"I’ve always looked up to Doug because of what a great player he is, and then the fact that I got to hang out with him this summer and work out with him, it means a lot to me to be in that same category," Foster said.

Foster said that talking with Doug during this offseason gave extra meaning to his final collegiate season.

"Oh man, listening to Doug talk about his senior year motivated me so much and that’s one of the reasons I want to put in so much work," Foster said. "To have a great year just like he had."

As far as motivating factors go, speaking with one of Creighton's all-time greats is up there, but becoming a father tops them all.

On Oct. 2, 2017, Foster announced the birth of his baby girl, Jazmine.

"Oh it motivates me so much. Knowing this summer that I was going to have a baby girl on the way motivated me to a whole other level because now, I want to be so good this year so that it will carry over to my future so that I can have a good NBA career."

With a promising future ahead of him, Foster will look to lead Creighton to new heights this season. When asked about what to expect from the Jays in 2017, Foster replied "A team that’s going to run up the floor and shoot a lot of threes."

The finale is always the most entertaining.

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