Donald Wilson likes the sound of people comparing him to an NBA first-round draft pick: Freddie Jones.
Of course, Wilson just entered college at the University of Portland, and Jones, the former Portland area star at Oregon, exited college to the Indiana Pacers. But for sheer athleticism and basketball talent, the Pilots believe they've landed an impact player Ñ someday, a great player.
'He's an athletic, open-court player who can play above the rim. A slasher,' UP coach Michael Holton says. 'The thing that makes him special is, he's defensive-minded. He wants to take on the other team's top player and shut him down.
'To get that in one package É it can elevate your program.'
Holton maneuvered to sign Wilson, a 6-4 guard from L.A.'s Dorsey High, through diligence and loyalty.
As a UCLA assistant, Holton scouted Wilson through his high school years. When Holton got the UP job, he kept recruiting him against 'a host of major schools who eventually moved on,' and 'we got a commitment and stayed in there.'
Wilson signed before passing the SATs, a potentially risky move for Portland, but not risky considering that Wilson does well academically.
'My school never taught how to take the test,' he says. 'I had to get tutored on the outside.'
Once he passed, other schools, Pepperdine among them, approached him again. But Wilson remained loyal to Holton.
'He's very happy, and his family is very happy,' Holton says of Wilson, who had 18 points in his debut, an exhibition win last weekend.
First-year Portland State coach Heath Schroyer has an impact player in 6-10 Seth Scott, who had 30 points and 10 rebounds in his first exhibition game (a loss).
Scott turned down offers from bigger schools, including UConn, to be the BMOC at PSU.
'I trust the man (Schroyer) can help me get where I want to go,' Scott says, meaning the NBA. 'At other schools, I would be just another player.'
Scott loves to score but has shown some pass in practice. That's a good thing, because the Viks need to get outside shots for freshman Marshal Hartman, Troy DeVries and Jeb Ivey.
The worry at PSU is that Seamus Boxley, an experienced 6-7 forward, may not play until at least December, if at all this season (and redshirt) after surgery to repair a ligament in his left hand.
Meanwhile, Schroyer is preaching man-to-man defense, but his players are not inclined to play defense, don't move their feet and reach too much.
Ducks are No. 11
About 6,000 tickets remain for the most anticipated college basketball game in Portland in years: Oregon vs. Kansas, 12:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Rose Garden, a 'PapŽ Jam' game that will be live on CBS regional. You can get tickets at Ticketmaster or at the Rose Quarter ticket office; some 12,500 have been sold.
Of note: The No. 11 Ducks, ranked in the preseason for the first time, also face early tests against Pepperdine (Dec. 14 on the road), Cincinnati (Dec. 17 on the road) and Minnesota (Dec. 22 at home). É Sans Freddie Jones, and with Ian Crosswhite and Andre Joseph, the Ducks shoot the lights out; they're fun to watch. É Coach Ernie Kent will decide soon whether to redshirt guard Jordan Kent (probable) and power forward Adam Zahn (maybe, maybe not).
Hurd, Stephens shine
Observations from OSU's first exhibition (a loss): Freshman point guard Lamar Hurd can play. He's not a scorer, but he'll be a four-year starter, no question. Just as impressive has been Madison grad Chris Stephens, a guard who will be in coach Jay John's regular rotation.
'He's got a little bit of edge to his game, and I like that,' John says.