Ex-Montour star Wilson embraces return home to play against Pitt
Virginia Tech point guard Devin Wilson discovered firsthand how the area's reputation for producing football talent could have impeded his college recruitment.
A two-sport star at Montour, Wilson was fortunate. He signed with Virginia Tech for the opportunity to compete in a prestigious basketball conference. As a freshman, he's the only team member to start every game.
Wilson returns home to face Pitt at noon Saturday at Petersen Events Center in his first ACC matchup against the program he followed as a youth.
“I've been in that gym multiple times, but it will be the first time I play a game there,” said Wilson, who leads Virginia Tech in assists, steals and minutes played and is fourth in scoring. “To see my friends and family there should be awesome.”
Wilson almost didn't get the chance at Virginia Tech. Concerns about him choosing football over basketball scared some college coaches, according to Montour basketball coach Adam Kaufman.
“Virginia Tech actually came in really late during the state playoffs (last season),” Kaufman said. “It took a leap of faith on Devin's part because at the time he decided to focus on hoops it was his senior year, and there wasn't a ton of schools coming around. Coaches didn't want to quote “waste their time” because Devin was a Western Pennsylvania kid. Everyone felt like Western Pennsylvania is football.
“People remember Jon Baldwin, Terrelle Pryor and Darrelle Revis,” Kaufman continued. “They were all excellent high school football players who could have played Division I basketball, but they chose to go the other way.”
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Wilson led Montour to two WPIAL Class AAA basketball titles in three years. The Spartans were PIAA runner-up in 2010 and '11. As a football player, Wilson finished as the WPIAL's career leader in receptions (220) and receiving yards (3,192).
“It was a tough decision,” Wilson said. “I went back and forth with my parents. The biggest thing was I loved basketball a little bit more than football, and I could see myself playing it the rest of my life.”
Wilson, who received offers to play football at N.C. State, Temple, Akron and Ohio, reassured Virginia Tech coach James Johnson he wanted to play basketball. He selected the Hokies over George Mason, St. Joseph's, Western Michigan and Temple.
“He mentioned it to us during the process,” Johnson said. “He had opportunities to play football, and he turned them down. He said, ‘Basketball is what I want to do.'
“Devin won in basketball and football in high school. He has that toughness from football. He is a huge part of what we're doing and what we're going to do and where the program is headed.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JHarris_Trib.
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