Wilson charges into starting role for Wayne State

Shannon Wilson, who played prep basketball in Bloomfield Hills, has worked hard to become a starting guard for the Wayne State University women’s basketball team this season.

Shannon Wilson, who played prep basketball in Bloomfield Hills, has worked hard to become a starting guard for the Wayne State University women’s basketball team this season.

Shannon Wilson never had a doubt she could contribute significant minutes to a college basketball team.

The former prep standout who starred for three years at Andover before graduating as part of the first class from Bloomfield Hills, is enjoying life as a member of the Wayne State University women’s team. A sophomore guard, Wilson has worked her way into a starting role in just her second year.

“Initially I thought (becoming a starter) happened faster than what I figured, because when you think of college (basketball), you don’t see too many underclassmen starting,” Wilson said Wednesday afternoon, just before a bus trip which took the WSU women to Indiana for a Thursday night game against Indianapolis. “But because we’re so young, I think I’m on track.

“I feel my role now is to be a scorer, but I do look to pass and be that disher, because my role is also to get my teammates the ball. That also helps me to get open and look for my opportunities. I want to score, but I also want to help my team in rebounds and assists and things like that.

“My goal this year is pretty much just to go out there and do my best and do what I’m capable of,” she added. “I just want to help my team out as much as I can.”

A learning experience

Wilson spent most of last season learning about college basketball.

The 5-foot-8 sophomore guard began last season on the junior varsity, but moved up to the varsity after just two games. Wilson eventually appeared in 23 games, starting one. She averaged 4.3 points per game, scoring 13 — which then equaled a career high — in the season-ending playoff game.

Wilson worked hard over the summer to improve her game with an eye on becoming a starter.

In WSU’s first three games this year, all wins, Wilson’s averaged 14 points and 6.3 rebounds.

She established career highs in points (18), steals (six) and rebounds (five) in the season-opening win over Salem International. In Thursday’s 93-71 victory at Indianapolis, Wilson equaled that career high with 18 points, adding four assists and five steals in 39 minutes.

“Even though I didn’t play much at the beginning (as a freshman), I still learned a lot in practices and even in the games by watching,” she said. “I learned what to do and what not to do. My freshman year was more of a learning year and I was able to carry that over into this year.

“It feels great to just know that all the work I put in last year and over the summer is now paying off and now I’m able to step up and provide for my team and show what I can,” she added. “I just want to keep being a leader and keep doing what I know I can do on the court. I want to be a leader for the underclassmen and help them with their freshman year and help them to become more than just role players. I want to help them become significant parts of the team.”

Outstanding prep career

Wilson had an outstanding high school career, as finished with most every offensive record at Andover before it closed its doors following the 2012-13 season.

She helped launch the Bloomfield Hills girls program as a senior the following year, netting a career-high 40 points in a double-overtime victory over Birmingham Seaholm. Wilson also eclipsed the 1,500-point plateau for her prep career and finished as a member of the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan’s 2014 all-state team.

Wilson, in retrospect, believes her four years of high school basketball helped prepare her for the next level, especially from a leadership vantage point. Because of her innate talent and strong court sense, she immediately became a respected teammate who developed a strong on-court relationship with the older players.

“The four years I had in high school prepared me a lot (for college basketball), because it sort of forced me to take on a leadership role, right from my freshman year,” Wilson said. “So when I came (to Wayne State), I had more confidence in myself and not be afraid to speak up and be a leader.”

Wayne State finished with a sizzling 23-6 record last year, including an 18-4 GLIAC record. The 23 wins equaled a school record and the 18 league victories were the most in program history. WSU defeated No. 7-ranked Drury in its first-round postseason game, then lost in the regional semifinal round to No. 4-ranked Lewis.

High expectations again

This year the Warriors, who received honorable mention votes in the WBCA Division II preseason poll, are anticipating another strong regular season and are playing for a fourth straight trip to the NCAA postseason tournament.

“There are pretty high expectations this year, because we were so good last year,” Wilson said. “A lot of teams I feel are excited to play us and want to play us because we upset a lot of teams last year.

“Now with a lot of our players gone from last year, they are looking for revenge. There’s a little pressure on us. Last year we had (All-America center and Division II National Play of the Year) Shareta Brown and she was a huge part of our team. Now without her, I feel a lot of teams don’t think we can do so much.

“But I think teams are going to be surprised when we play them to see us functioning without that post presence that Shareta provided for us last year,” she added. “We aren’t so much post-oriented as we were last year. We’re still going to trying to get it inside, but I think there will be more contributions for the guards this year.”

While the basketball experience is exciting, the academic atmosphere is just as beneficial for the West Bloomfield resident, who hopes to become a physical therapist after graduation.

Wilson is comfortable with her choice to attend Wayne State University in the heart of Detroit’s Midtown area.

“I love it here. It’s great athletically and academically,” Wilson said. “I am doing well in my academics. Because I’m not stressing out so much over academics, I’m able to focus on basketball. Everything is just balancing itself out really well.

“I’m close to home, so I get to see my parents and they get to come and see me play, which has always been really important to me,” she added. “Everything has just worked out perfectly coming here. And being able to start has been a great addition to my sophomore year.”

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