Wilson making difference in only season with Weevils


MONTICELLO — Brandon Wilson is good enough to play Division I basketball.

There’s a reason the Rayville, La., native started his collegiate career at Grambling State. He spent just one year at GSU before sitting out college basketball the next two years.

Wilson, though, has finally found a place in Arkansas-Monticello where he can shine.

Wilson is a prime reason why and a prime example of how the Boll Weevils have come together to go on an 8-game winning streak that has them in first place in the Great American Conference.

UAM (10-2, 4-1 in GAC) will put that streak on the line Thursday night when they take on Southern Nazarene (5-6, 3-2) at 7:30 p.m. at the Sawyer Center in Bethany, Okla.

A few months ago, nobody in the UAM program could have foreseen a 10-2 start to the season for a team bringing in 10 transfer students.

The ease with which the 2013-14 team has gelled together is quite astounding, but head coach Allen Sharpe thinks there is a pretty simple explanation.

“Winning solves a lot of problems,” he said. “It’s hard to complain or be a bad when you’re winning.

“It definitely came together quicker than we thought it.”

But to come together enough to win without much familiarity takes talented players.

Enter Wilson.

The 6-foot-7, 200-pound senior forward leads the team with nearly 18 points per game. He has led UAM in scoring in half of its 12 games, and the Weevils have never lost when Wilson leads the team in scoring.

Wilson said it took him a couple of weeks to adjust to UAM’s style of play.

“It took a while to figure out some of the kinks,” he said. “On offense, I wasn’t really used to running an offense, so it took some time getting used to it.

“I had to adjust (my style of play). I usually had the ball in my hands, but now we’ve got guards who are good enough that I don’t have to bring the ball up.”

Wilson makes a difference on the defensive end, leading the Weevils in rebounds and blocked shots. He averages almost seven boards a game and just over two swats per contest.

While, Wilson has shown a propensity for making big plays on defense, Sharpe would like to see him start playing more fundamentally sound.

“He’s very versatile,” Sharpe said. “He’s good at guarding around the basket and he’s also good at guarding really good shooters, because he’s so long.

“We just need to get him to stay with it the whole possession. … Not just 10 or 15 seconds.”

His coach will tell you, Wilson’s impact goes far beyond what you’ll find on the stat sheet.

“He’s brought a level of toughness and competiveness,” Sharpe said. “He raises the level of everybody else’s play.”

Even if Wilson isn’t having his best game, the Weevils have shown they have plenty of talented players who can step up and fill the void.

Sharpe sees that as the main difference between this year’s team and UAM teams of the past.

Last season, the Weevils had the GAC Player of the Year in Kori Forge, but only one other player (Dayton Mickens) averaged more than 10 points a game.

This season Wilson and two players (Jared Harrison and Brandon Sims) average more than 10 ppg, while two others (Sharif Hudson and Mickens) average 9-plus points.

“That’s a lot of pressure off my shoulders,” Wilson said. “We’ve got a lot of players who can come up and contribute.”