Yerrick Stoneman knew Malcolm Wilson had the size to be a special basketball player when he took over the Ridge View High basketball program three years ago.
The only question Stoneman had was this: Would the 6-foot-11 Wilson have the dedication and desire to be a successful player? Wilson has answered that question over the past three years and has emerged as one of the state’s top prospects.
In November, Wilson signed to play for Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing at Georgetown, and he will try to help the Blazers to their second straight Class 4A title against Wilson High on Saturday at the Colonial Life Arena.
“He has refocused over the past two years,” Stoneman said this week. “He fell in love with the game over the summer before his junior year. When you fall in love with something, the sky is the limit and I can’t wait to see him develop under Patrick Ewing.”
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Wilson’s game has gotten better each season and the numbers back that up. As a sophomore, he averaged just four points and 1.7 blocks. The past two years, the future Hoya is averaging nine rebounds a game. He’s blocking a career-high 5.2 shots per game this season.
Wilson had a triple-double in the third round game against Travelers Rest and had 11 rebounds and 10 blocks in the Upper State championship game last week against Wren.
“I try to find a way to stay in the game and have an impact on the game, if it’s not on the offensive end then it is on the defensive end,” Wilson said. “A couple of years ago, I would have never imagined to be able to do what I am doing now. But you need to be able to believe in yourself and know you can do whatever you want.
“I just have kind of fallen in love with the game, my teammates and coaches in the process of grinding and getting better. It has come with a lot wins for myself and the team.”
Stoneman said having a guy like Wilson at the back end of the defense really makes it easier to game plan on defense and lets Ridge View guards play more aggressively. Plus, many of Wilson’s blocks and rebounds lead to fast-break opportunities for the Ridge View guards Walyn Napper, Crosby Harris-James and Cincere Scott.
The Ridge View players said they feed off Wilson’s ability on the defensive end and when the mild-mannered senior shows aggression on the court. In third round of the playoffs, Wilson got his lone technical foul after talking trash following one of his blocked shots.
“I love when I see Malcolm get fired up and the tech fired us up,” Napper said. “The coach didn’t care about the tech because when Malcolm is fired up, then the whole team is fired up. I love having Malcolm on my team. It is hard for teams to make layups because he alters every shot.
“Malcolm has made a big leap in his game, hitting the weight room hard, running on the track. Watching his game develop has been to fun to see.”
At Colonial Life Arena in Columbia
Admission is $12
TV: Games will be carried locally on WACH 57.2. Ridge View and Wilson’s game will be on WACH 57.
INTERNET: All games will be streamed on www.nfhsnetwork.com (subscription required)
RADIO: Andrew Jackson-Gray Collegiate, Spring Valley and Ridge View games will be carried on 102.7 FM and online and the station’s app.
Class A Girls Championship
High Point Academy vs. Scott’s Branch, 3:30 p.m.
Class A Boys Championship
High Point Academy vs. Hemingway, 5 p.m.
Class 5A Girls Championship
Spring Valley vs. Goose Creek, 7 p.m.
Class 5A Boys Championship
Berkeley vs. Dorman, 8:30 p.m.
Class 2A Girls Championship
Christ Church vs. Mullins, 10:30 a.m.
Class 2A Boys Championship
Gray Collegiate vs. Andrew Jackson, noon
Class 3A Girls Championship
Keenan vs. Bishop England, 2 p.m.
Class 3A Boys Championship
Keenan vs. Ridgeland-Hardeeville, 3:30 p.m.
Class 4A Girls Championship
North Augusta vs. South Pointe, 5:30 p.m.
Class 4A Boys Championship
Wilson vs. Ridge View, 7 p.m.