By Kajan Thiruthanikasalam
Kendell Wilson was struggling all night against the Georgian Grizzlies. The six-foot-one fourth-year shooting guard, born in Pickering, Ont., was 18 points away from becoming the first ever Centennial Colt to reach 1,000 regular season points but had only seven through three quarters.
All this did not come easy for Wilson. After starting in the 2013-14 year and playing three years with the Colts, he took a year off. Wilson admitted that the biggest jump in his game came last summer as he came into this season with a different mentality.
“Mainly, it’s the work ethic, putting in the time. Before, when I first got here, I went through the motions and did everything at my own pace,” Wilson said. “Now, I push myself. I don’t leave the gym until I’m satisfied and get the work done.”
The veteran guard is currently taking two programs simultaneously – business administration and business marketing. But Wilson says he will have two diplomas by April of this year if everything goes according to plan.
“Obviously, after basketball, there always has to be something,” Wilson said. “I’m hoping, that with marketing and business admin, I have learned the skills and tools to work in a bank or firm. That’s my goal.”
But Wilson says he intends to play basketball at the highest possible level for as long as he can.
“I’m not saying I could go to the NBA but I see a lot of people that have played in this league and university that play in the NBL or other pro (leagues),” Wilson said. “I honestly think I’m good enough to play in those leagues. I still have a lot more work to do but I’m capable of doing that.”
ICYMI: Centennial Colts shooting guard @misterkwilson11 becomes the first ever Centennial Colt to score 1K points! I had the chance to talk to him about the accomplishment, the gritty battle against Georgian and the key to win against Seneca. Congratulations on a historic achievement! @coltsathletics @centennialmbb @onpointbasketball @theocaa #1kpointclub #gocoltsgo🐴 #centennialcolts #screamgreen #kendellwilson #getbuckets
Centennial head coach Trevor Challenger has noticed the growth in Wilson since two seasons ago as a player and a person.
“Kendell’s growing into a very decent young man. He still has many years of basketball but his money maker is (his preparation) when he graduates from school and goes on to life,” Challenger said.
Wilson says that this is the best coaching staff that he’s ever had during his time with the Colts.
“Usually, when you’re on a team, you want to win for yourself and your team. This is the first time I could say (that) I want to win just to make our coaches happy and make them proud,” Wilson said. “They make you want to work harder for them and it just shows the level of respect I have for them.”
Now, about the game against Georgian. With four minutes to go in what was a close game, Wilson heated up. He scored nine points in three minutes, including a massive triple, the Colts’ first of the game, with a minute to go as the anticipation built up – he was only two points away.
The Grizzlies then called for time after the Colts extended the lead to double digits with 34.9 seconds left. However, on the ensuing possession, Georgian turned the ball over and Centennial ran out on the fastbreak. Wilson had one more shot at the milestone. With 24.9 seconds left, Wilson received the ball and headed towards the rim and laid the ball up over the contest of Georgian’s Carter Dunlop. It felt like an eternity but the ball rolled around before dropping through, sending the Colts bench and the crowd into a frenzy. Wilson had reached 1,000.
“It lets me know that the hard work I’ve put in to get to the point that I am really paid off and just to keep going,” Wilson said about the milestone. “I’m not done yet. I want more.”
Challenger says it was stressful seeing the chase towards the milestone all unfold.
“I wanted him to score 1000 earlier in the game, but credit the Grizzlies team defense,” Challenger said.
Centennial men’s basketball alumni Michael Brown (1989-90 OCAA leading scorer), also a member of the Colts Hall of Fame, says that Wilson’s offense is coming within the flow of the team now rather than forcing his own offense.
“The most important thing is he wasn’t forcing the shot; he took the right shots,” Brown said. “He’s a lot more mature than he was before.”
The Colts then called a timeout shortly afterward and honoured him by presenting him the game ball, as Wilson received a standing ovation and was mobbed by his teammates.
“No, I didn’t. I think that’s what makes this so special,” Wilson said when asked if he knew about the potential landmark and ceremony heading into the game. “I had no idea at all; it caught me by surprise.”
“Myself and the other coaches are extremely proud of Kendell’s accomplishments thus far,” Challenger said. “We’ve been telling him to be more aggressive on offense, but his personality is so unselfish.”
Brown agrees with the unselfish nature that Wilson brings to the team, although he says it has been shown a lot more now than before, which speaks to his growth.
“It was there. But before, because he was young and immature, he would tend to force the ball a lot more than he’s doing now,” Brown said.
Wilson finished with a game-high 18 points in the Colts’ 77-67 win over the Grizzlies, despite the team shooting just 5.9 per cent (1-17) from downtown.
“It just lets us know that we don’t just need the three ball to win games,” Wilson said. “Obviously, it’s better if we get some more shots in, especially against a better team but it’s good to know even though our shots are not falling, we can find other ways to win.”
For the time being, however, Wilson will enjoy this historic achievement.