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Texas A&M Basketball

1-on-1 with Duane Wilson: On his decision to come to A&M, family & more

January 18, 2018

On being at Texas A&M...

“I enjoy it a lot. It’s a different transition coming from a different school last year —where you have to meet new people, trust new coaches and gain the trust of your teammates. But everything’s been smooth. I love my teammates — they do a good job of coming in everyday, working hard. They believe in me and I believe in them and also the coaching staff. Coach Kennedy believes in me that I can run the team and he gave me the opportunity. Even when I got hurt, those guys stuck with me through my therapy and at times we didn’t know if I’d be playing again or not. The coaching staff and everybody around was there for me. That was pretty great.”

On earning his teammates trust...

“It was just being myself. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Don’t come in and try to be demanding and stuff like that. Try to work your way into things and get to know everybody on the team — build a relationship. That’s one thing I did when I got here and hung out with different guys on the team and got to know everybody. And after a while, we built that chemistry and that bond as a brotherhood.”

On the weather and A&M fans...

“Right now I’d walk to the gym this morning and it was 60 degrees outside back home. Back at Marquette you walk into the gym, but in this weather you try to catch a ride, whatever the case may be. But it’s great down here, great weather, great fans, great students here.”

On growing up in Milwaukee and his love for the Bucks...

“It was great growing up in Milwaukee. It’s different you know, it’s a basketball city. The football team is Green Bay, but it’s strictly basketball, so it’s basically what I was born and raised with. I’ve been doing this my whole life, just meeting different people and having the opportunity to play on such a high level — even at a younger age playing in the AAU team and we traveled all over the country. A lot of these guys here I played against or knew of, so that was great. He (Giannis Antetokounmpo) has done everything. A lot of people forget he’s only 22. He’s supposed to be in college right now. Jabari Parker and Giannis have done a great job, especially on and off the court. Those two young guys bring a lot of energy to the city, they’re building a new arena and all the new things going on in the city and that’s great.”

On his family...

“It’s my mom, my dad and I got a three-year old son, he comes down here a lot. He really loves basketball. He knows everybody’s name on the team, one through thirteen or however many guys we got.  He knows everybody. I have a big family, my family’s always traveling down here. I had a relationship with coach Chew before, he knows pretty much everybody in my family — my cousins, my uncles, to my grandparents. He knows everybody, so that’s huge. They’ve been coming to all our games pretty much — from L.A., to New York, to Arizona. I’ve been having family coming to every single game so that’s been pretty great.”

On his other family members that play basketball...

“I had a cousin, Fat Lever, he played at Arizona State and played for the Nuggets and my cousin Jamil Wilson, he played with the Mavericks and the Clippers. And currently he’s on a 10-day contract with the Lakers, I believe. And those parts of two-ones have really like made it professionally. Those two guys I really look up too, especially Jamil, I went to Marquette with him my freshman year so that’s pretty much my mentor.”

On the sacrifices he’s made to play basketball...

“Maybe when I was like 13, 14 I went to a camp and I was ranked like top-15 in the country for my class. Right then and there my dad told me and my uncle told me ‘We’re going to take this serious or not.’ I made a decision to take it seriously and that came with the sacrifices of being in the gym every day and making the sacrifices of not having a regular childhood like other kids. Summer time was all basketball, it wasn’t going to Disneyworld and all those things — it was going to Vegas or Florida for a whole week or going to camps for a whole month just to play basketball. I’ve been doing this my whole life, so it’s nothing new to me.”

On his recruiting process and choosing Marquette...

“It came down to Marquette, Missouri and Memphis and Coach Chew was at Missouri, Memphis was my dream school — Derrick Rose and all the great guards that they had. Marquette was right at home and Pastner was at Memphis at the time and Stoudemire was my recruiter. I was close to committing to Memphis, either my sophomore or junior year; I took a visit there. I wanted to commit right then and there, but my mom and dad were like ‘I don’t think it’s the time right now, take a visit to Marquette.’ And we visited Mizzou already, so I took a visit to Marquette, talked to coach Buzz and they had Deonte Burton a kid from Milwaukee, already committed.  I played with him since I was in middle school, so go to Memphis or stay home and I could play with Deonte and Jameel McKay, two kids from Milwaukee I grew up with and my cousin. So, I was leaning towards staying at Marquette you know, Memphis was my dream school but Marquette was the best place for me at the time.”

On his accolades and time with Marquette...

“I was New Comer of the Year, First Team All-Rookie. We had a great year under Steve Wojciechowski, he coached for me for three years. He taught me a lot, I learned a lot from that experience. I just look at it as everything that I learned I learned from Marquette and all those things I could come down here and bring it down to Texas with my experience and tune these guys in and teach them what I learned and pass it down to the next guys that are coming in.”

On his decision to transfer...

“My junior year was different you know, I really didn’t know what to expect. I spent a lot of time in the gym and it really was what was best for the team. I don’t think it was anything personal me or coach Wojciechowski just thought this was best for our team. I didn’t complain at all that whole year — we were winning and it was big games where I had a big game and there were some games I had to be a great teammate and sacrifice staying over there and clapping, cheering on my teammates — nothing wrong with that. But at the end of the day, I had to do what was best for me and for my future and my family and my son. So, I thought the best opportunity was for me to go somewhere else where I could play point guard and show all of my skills. And coach Wojciechowski, he agreed with me and to this day we still keep in contact. If I have a big game or I see them have a big game, I text one of the assistants, I talk to pretty much everybody in the Marquette program. My mom even still goes to the games up there. So it’s a great relationship I got with both.”

On why he chose Texas A&M...

“Once we lost in the NCAA Tournament at Marquette, I pretty much knew I wanted to come to A&M. I’ve been watching them play and always kept a tight relationship with coach Chew. He would always text me and checks on me and my mom and my dad and my son, just cause he’s almost like a big brother to me. He’s known me since I was 16-years old. So we always kept a close relationship. So, I knew of D.J. Hogg and Tyler Davis and Admon from playing against them in AAU and stuff like that and always watching them play. Once I opened up my recruitment, once I saw that Robert was coming back and saw they needed another point guard, it was not that hard of choice to make to come to here. This was the only visit I took was at Texas A&M and my dad was kind of like, ‘Let’s see what else they got,’ but I was like man, there was something telling me this was where I needed to be. I can help these guys out and they can help me out also. I feel like it was a very fair exchange. I went home and talked to my family and coach Kennedy thought it was best if I waited a few days before I committed. We kind of already had it done on my visit, but he was like ‘Go home, talk to your family, give me a call on Tuesday and let me know what you want to do.’ That was my decision; coach Kennedy didn’t put pressure on me that was one thing I like about it.  And also he built a relationship with my parents and my son and everybody here welcomed us with open arms. And my biggest thing with picking a school was trust, it’s hard to trust people — Chew was somebody I’d been trusting since I was 16-years old he’s been in my family house when I was a younger kid. It really was no doubt about it that I wanted to come here.”

On his three-year old son...

“His name is Kobe, he’s a funny dude. He’s three years old. His mom, Kobe Bryant was her favorite player and I love basketball, so I was like why not name him Kobe? Luckily enough, he loves basketball. Every time he comes down here he always wants to play basketball and wants to stay in the gym. I’ll be the gym for hours and he’ll be here all day and fall asleep on the floor. He loves being around it it’s great, especially having someone that looks up to you, you really have to put in the extra time and the work cause you got somebody looking up for you and somebody you need to provide for.”

On how being a father has changed him...

“It made me a very mature person — a lot of things you have to cut out. You can’t go out as much, can’t hang out with your friends as much. You have to make sacrifices, cause he’s looking up to you and at the same time that’s a responsibility. Luckily, I have a great support system with family — my mom does a really great job, especially with me being away. He lives with his mom and my mom and goes back and forth. So my momma does a lot for my son and even my dad too. So, that’s just great. And even when he comes down here, coach lets him come to practice and film sessions, so he just runs around the locker room and plays video games. That’s just great, a lot of people don’t get that opportunity with their son. A lot of coaches it’s different, but coach Kennedy welcomed my family with open arms and that’s one thing I love about him.”

On his injury and how he feels now...

“I feel great right now, it’s an everyday process. Some days I’m going to be sore and some days I’m going to feel great but that just comes with it. I could’ve easily been selfish about it and told coach I’m good, I don’t want to take the risk of hurting my knee more. But I love these dudes, I leave it all out on the floor for them. So no matter what happens, I hope and pray my knee continues to stay strong through the rest of these games. The guys have been with me through it all — the day when I hurt it, everyone thought I wasn’t going to play again the rest of the season, but luckily the MRI showed different and we were able to get treatment to heal it even more to get it back stronger. I feel like it was a blessing in disguise, we had people counting us out because we went 0-5, the team that went to the Sweet 16, they lost five games in a row. I feel like this is a test and we’re going to knock that door down soon and climb over that wall and run through that wall and we can run off wins at any time, we just got to find it back. Saturday was our first time having everybody together since the Prairie View game, so I feel like this next game everybody is all in. Guys are not going their separate ways, everybody’s sticking together and sticking with what we do.”

Discussion from...

1-on-1 with Duane Wilson: On his decision to come to A&M, family & more

8,577 Views | 7 Replies | Last: 6 yr ago by BigJim49 AustinNowDallas
David Kreps
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Great interview Gabe. No coincidence that losing streak coincided with Duane's injury. Great having him back with win over Ole Miss. He is a difference maker in bringing our team together. Didn't feel his knee was 100% so lets hope it gets fully healed and stays that way.
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Been a joy to watch Duane play for the Ags this year.
John Pugliese
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I'm extremely impressed with Duane's ability to run the point considering he doesn't have a ton of experience doing it in his college career (played mostly off the ball at MU). Duane's best attribute besides his leadership ability is that he understands defensive systems and rotations. With young guards in the program, his ability to be reliable on that end has been tremendous...maybe what they missed most with his injury.

Duane's a unique story, something it is great to see you interview him about. Well done.

-John Pugliese
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Thank you.
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BigJim49 AustinNowDallas
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