Wilson hopes hard work will pay off
He would enter Hofheinz Pavilion with a gray jersey. By the time the final buzzer sounded, three-fourths would be altered in such a way that told the story of the day. A dark steel color would be the best way to describe what had taken over the jersey, thanks to two hours of pushing his body to the limit.
A Tom Penders-coached practice is never easy – not for the star players. This goes double for the guy wearing the jersey that would start out gray. Jamon Wilson’s performances in practice on the scout team were key in Houston’s 21-12 season. His time on the court between games pushing role guards, such as Aubrey Coleman and Kelvin Lewis, kept the Cougars’ leading scorers at the top of their games.
‘Every good team that I’ve ever had has had a player like Jamon that really pushed the front-line players and gave 100 percent everyday,’ Penders said.
Wilson walked on the team for Penders as a junior before the start of the 2008-09 season and competed in five games as a reserve guard. Penders, however, pegs him as one of the most diligent players on the team, whose work ethic seems to rub off on other players.
‘It’s been my experience that guys like Jamon end up being real successful in life because they don’t have a sense of entitlement,’ Penders said. ‘They’re willing to work for everything. I say that from a lot of experience I often wonder about kids that everything comes easy to them.’
Penders wasn’t just blowing smoke. He knows what Wilson went through in order to make it on his team.
‘I actually had a couple of looks out of high school, but the grades just weren’t all the way there,’ Wilson said. ‘Once they found that out, that’s when I went to the unsigned senior thing and tried to go the (junior college) route.’
After graduating from Clear Brook High School, Wilson enrolled in North Lake College. Once there, he worked his way into the starting lineup for the Blazers and averaged five points per game for a team that took the 2008 NJCAA Division III Championship game with a 66-59 victory against Hostas Community College. Wilson hit a jumper with two minutes remaining in the game to give his team a two-point lead.
He accomplished this after being forced to take a medical redshirt his freshman season because of a fractured thumb.
‘Sitting down and just watching, even when it healed, being able to just practice with the team helped me grow as a player a lot,’ Wilson said.
He also said he wouldn’t have traded his chance to play in a championship game for anything.
‘Even though it was Division III it was really good experience. I needed that,’ Wilson said. ‘Having a chance to put a ring on my finger, any kind of ring, any championship was a good experience.’
Wilson now faces his next challenge. He’s not satisfied with his job as the scout team’s go-to-guy, or merely being known as the shooter. Like anyone who has played sports on a competitive level, Wilson wants to start. Starting for a Division I school in a competitive conference would make his career that much sweeter.
‘I’m trying to get in the starting lineup baby,’ Wilson said. ‘That’s pretty much what I’m working for. I’m going to work all summer and spring. Hopefully, when the time comes I’ll get the chance to be on the floor a lot.’
He said his strong desire to play at such a high level of competition came from his father, James Wilson, who played football for the Cougars in the late ’70s.
‘My dad went to UH, and two years he won Cotton Bowl rings. That was pretty much influential to me,’ Wilson said. ‘Coming from D-III I was like, I’ve got to go D-I. My dad did it. He always said, ‘If you don’t work hard, you ain’t gon’ get nothing,’ so I had to show him I could do it.’