Damien Wilson has come along way since his freshman season at Memphis. He’s now entering his second season and seems determined to have a better season. He’s been very vocal at practice, especially to freshman forward Austin Nichols. Pastner was yelling at Nichols for not being vocal on the court and Wilson gave the young fella some advice.
“Pastner was telling him like, ‘This is not high school.’ I was hearing the same thing last year,” said Wilson to Austin. ‘He’s not saying it in a personal matter. Take it as constructive criticism and just play loose. Just have fun.’ ”
Wilson dealt with the same issues last season as Pastner was all in his face. That led to Wilson averaging only 4.8 minutes per game while playing behind Adonis Thomas, even though he played in 28 games. According to Wilson, it was very difficult for him at times last season.
“It was very tough. I hated it. I hated it with a passion,” he said. “It was so much going through my mind. School. Mad cause I wasn’t playing. Working hard and not feeling I was getting the time that I really wanted.
“Now, I just really don’t even care. As long as I’m working hard, I’m going to play. With the time I get, I’m going to make a difference.”
Memphis has already practiced three times and Wilson has been the standout in all of them. He has been the aggressor on the court by driving to the basket for points. At 6-6, 190-pounds, Wilson is starting to come alive and become productive. This will earn him minutes in Pastner’s eyes.
Wilson is once again in the position that he will have to battle for playing time behind freshmen Nick King and Kuran Iverson. Both guys are expected to play significant minutes this season, so where can Wilson fit in the rotation?
Wilson is not feeling the pressure of the freshman class at all.
“It’s always a race. Period. Nobody is set for any position, so it’s a battle everyday,” said Wilson. “I’m just going to go out there and work. I’m battling myself, really, in terms of keeping it going everyday, staying positive and focused on and off the court.”
Pastner, thus far, is impressed with Wilson’s performance, but he will have to continue his progress if he wants to get playing time. Wilson is not good at dribbling, but his length and jump shot makes up for his dribbling skills. He could possibly replace D.J. Stephens as the Tigers’ sixth man this season. In Pastner’s eyes, Wilson had to mature before he got to this point.
“He needed to mature,” said Pastner. “He needed an attitude adjustment and he’s made an attitude adjustment, and that’s why he’s playing well — because he’s listening to the positive dog. When he listens to the negative dog, he’s not effective. He’s playing with energy. He’s not out of the woods yet. He’s got to do it everyday.”
I received this information from the Commercial Appeal.