Anacostia’s Michael Wilkerson established himself as one of the DCIAA’s best offensive players as a junior last winter, averaging nearly 16 points per game and hitting 39 three-pointers. But the glaring trend in Wilkerson’s game was that he was too unselfish down the stretch and too tentative when the Indians needed him in the second half of games.

A year later, Anacostia Coach Shatane Porter has finally gotten through to his star guard. In a game against Wakefield last month, Anacostia was down by 18 late in the second half before the 6-foot-2, 164-pound Wilkerson led a furious rally (he finished with 25 points and six rebounds) that cut the deficit to four with a few minutes remaining. The Indians would eventually lose that game, 86-77, and their next one to H.D. Woodson by four.

Since, the Indians (7-2, 2-0) have won five straight and have emerged as a legitimate contender in the revamped DCIAA, with three of those wins coming by six points or less. Wilkerson demanded the ball late against National Collegiate on Dec. 26, hitting a barrage of free throws down the stretch to seal a 57-53 win. In a league game against Wilson in late December, the Indians trailed early in the third quarter, prompting Porter to look at Wilkerson and order action.

“My team was down and my coach said, ‘You’re the one that leads us in this moment, so take us,’” Wilkerson said. “Just went out and played.”

Wilkerson hit a three-pointer at the end of the third quarter to tie the game, and finished with 20 points (including four three-pointers) in a 56-55 win.

Anacostia won just 11 games last year, including a 5-11 mark in DCIAA play, but returned its two top scorers in Wilkerson and 6-f00t-5, 235-pound forward David Richardson (9.2 ppg) and has found a productive scorer in senior Micah Mchaney (13.1 ppg).

For Wilkerson, who played sparingly on the AAU circuit last year, this winter is high time to gain exposure. Towson and Georgia State have shown early interest, and Division II schools such as Claslin (S.C.) and Mansfield (Pa.) have also been in contact. He expects more college scouts and coaches to attend his games this winter, and he hopes they take notice of his body language, and his new closing mentality, too.

“There’s always somebody looking at you. So you have to carry yourself as a nice young man,” Wilkerson said, “and also play the game.”

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