But for the 500-plus players who called him Coach at Douglass, Largo, Riverdale Baptist and Wise, the influence he has had on them outside the confines of the basketball court better tells his story.
“He is the most influential person in my life,” said Travis Ivey, a former NFL defensive tackle and a Riverdale Baptist alum. “Of course he wanted to win games, but that always took a back seat to what he called ‘the important things,’ like learning what it means to be a man and getting an education. Our development as men always took precedence.”
So it came as no surprise that following Wise’s 75-60 win Tuesday at Suitland — Wilson’s 700th career victory — he could be found jumping and celebrating with a large contingent of current and former players, as if the roles were reversed and they were the ones who had just reached a milestone.
“I haven’t gotten any stops on defense or even knocked down a shot in any of these wins,” Wilson said. “So in my mind, this accomplishment actually belongs to them.”
With his team plagued early by turnovers and missed free throws, it appeared Wilson might be denied a celebration for a second straight game. But guard Trey Thomas had other plans: Following a quiet first quarter, the sophomore found his groove, scoring 29 points to lead the way for the Pumas (8-4).
Wilson, who was a Division I player at Howard, said he wasn’t surprised by the outpouring of support from former players and members of his old coaching staffs because he has always emphasized the importance of celebrating wins as a family. That was a mantra he adopted from Howard coaching legend A.B. Williamson.
“I just think that having a God-fearing man, that truly loves them — not just for what they can do on the court but just them as men — has had a lasting impact,” Wilson said.
“From how to walk right to how to talk right, I gave them everything that I could give about the game of life, and their presence tonight is that coming to fruition.”