A double-double machine
West’s Wilson off to strong SO campaign
By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – During the offseason, it wasn’t uncommon to find Brandon Wilson at the YMCA on Green Bay’s west side.
He was on the basketball court putting up 1,000 shots a day.
Wilson’s goal was to improve his game as much as possible going into his sophomore season at Green Bay West.
Wilson’s upped his play exponentially.
The 16-year-old now has the versatility to bury a 3-pointer, but also to drive for a contested shot at the rim. Add to that his uncanny ability as a rebounder, and Wilson has become a solid all-around player.
“I think this year he’s gone into a three-level scorer,” Green Bay West coach Jerry Overstreet said. “I can score from the perimeter, I can pop midrange and I can attack. He no longer settles. I’ve seen him drive to the basket more often this year than I’ve seen in previous years — even going back to eighth grade.”
In the first nine games this season, Wilson averaged a double-double with 14.2 points and 10.8 rebounds. He was the only Green Bay-area boys’ basketball player to average double figures in both categories.
After Wilson played sparingly while battling a stomach virus against Peshtigo on Jan. 10, his season averages dipped since he didn’t have any points and pulled down just one rebound.
But Wilson — who is all of 6-foot-1 — has become a double-double machine.
“The first couple of games I was getting double-doubles consistently and then after the first three games I was like, ‘Wow, I’m actually doing this this year,’” Wilson said. “That was my goal from like the beginning of the year to average 12-12-12. But I was averaging 12 points and 12 rebounds, which was good and I really liked that.”
Through the first 13 games of the season, Wilson averaged 13.5 points and 9.5 rebounds.
As a freshman last season, Wilson was in the starting lineup and got his feet wet at the varsity level.
Going from eighth-grade basketball to varsity — taking on players that are bigger and up to three years older — was a huge jump.
“It really taught me how physical it is to play varsity as a freshman, because they were so much bigger than me last year and I really couldn’t do anything about it but work on it in the offseason the next year,” Wilson said. “That’s what I did.”
In his first season, Wilson averaged 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. But in Year 2, Wilson knew what to expect and he accelerated his play.
“I think he realized as a freshman when he got thrust into varsity what it was going to take during the offseason to get to the next level to help the team improve but also individually,” said Overstreet, who calls Wilson “Baby Coop with an asterisk” after 2021 West graduate Jefferson Cooper-Holmes, who averaged a double-double as a junior. “He’s put in the time. Playing AAU, getting in the gym, putting up shots, not hesitating to stay after practice when he can. He doesn’t hesitate to ask to get opportunities just to get in the gym.”
An offensive threat
Wilson has become a viable offensive weapon when he’s in the triple threat position above the 3-point arc. Overstreet has watched his young player improve at coming off screens and being shot ready.
“To him, sometimes he doesn’t realize how quick his first step is, and we’ve been working with him on that,” Overstreet said. “That quick jab, rip and go, because he can score at all three levels. Once he gets you leaning one direction, he’ll go left or right, there’s no doubt about it.”
Wilson feels he’s more of an effective scorer this year because of that ability to drive the lane, go into traffic with big men and get to the hoop.
“Last year, I was really too scared to drive in and get to the rim and try to get fouled,” Wilson said. “I was always shooting the ball whenever, avoiding to try to go to the rim. Now this year, I feel like I got a little bit bigger and now I’m driving to the rim a lot, drawing fouls.”
Wilson mainly plays small forward, but he’s also able to get inside as a power forward or center. He can create mismatches based on who he is taking on.
“We put him on the biggest guard or the biggest small forward that they have,” Overstreet said. “He’s in the lane, he doesn’t mind all that banging — getting the defensive rebounds. Funny thing about that is I’m trying to get him to go coast-to-coast a little bit to push the ball after he gets the rebound, that’s how good he is.”
Art of rebounding
Wilson surprises himself sometimes on how well he can rebound.
He’s always had to fight with the big men for rebounds. In middle school, Wilson stood just 5-foot-7 and sprouted up to 6-foot-1 in high school.
“I’d give him 6-foot-2, if his hair’s standing straight up,” Overstreet joked.
Boxing out is the key reason for Wilson’s effectiveness on the defensive and offensive glass.
“Anytime they shoot, I look for at least one person or two people to box out,” he said.
Wilson knows rebounding is instinctual, too. A player has to have a good idea where to be and where the ball might bounce off the rim.
“It’s positioning,” Overstreet said. “He’s not afraid of contact. He’s not afraid of the to-the-gut mentality. He’s going to get low when he can. I think he’s gotten a little bit higher on that vertical, too, lifting some weights here and there. He’s in there grinding with guys; he doesn’t care. He’s fearless.”
Getting college looks
Wilson’s trying to turn Green Bay West into becoming a relevant basketball school. The Wildcats haven’t had a winning season since 2005-06.
However, a good sophomore class could change that moving forward.
Wilson’s mom had looked at having her son transfer out of West — possibly to West De Pere or Green Bay Southwest — but Wilson didn’t want that to happen.
“I told my mom multiple times I didn’t want to switch schools, because they are going to think we’re going to be so bad and then just this one year we’re just going to be really good and then scouts are going to want to come see and all that,” Wilson said.
Wilson is hoping to start attracting attention from colleges.
He’s played in a number of national AAU tournaments with the Green Bay Freeze and taken on strong competition. Playing AAU ball has helped upped Wilson’s game immensely.
“I feel like it’s so much easier when you go from varsity to your actual age level,” Wilson said. “Back in AAU, I had two 36-point games, and it was just so much easier than what I expected.”
The AAU circuit is where Wilson is going to get noticed nationally by college coaches. At this point, he’s flying under the radar playing at West.
But Overstreet believes Wilson will get college looks by the time he’s a senior if he keeps on an upward trajectory as a basketball player.
Wilson hoops to play Division I college basketball. His dream school is the University of North Carolina.
Overstreet knows the sky’s the limit for Wilson.
“It’s going to be what he puts into it,” Overstreet said. “Like I tell the boys all the time: ‘You can’t be disappointed in the results, if you haven’t put the work in.’
“I think the future looks bright for him, man, as long as he keeps his work ethic and remains coachable — and I don’t think that’s really going to change.”