CONWAY, South Carolina — As former Laney High School standout, Elijah Wilson continues his ascent up the all-time scoring list at Coastal Carolina University. The Wilmington native took time to reflect on his achievements and briefly looked ahead to his future following last week’s matchup against Wofford.
Four years ago, the future wasn’t very clear for the 6-4 senior from Wilmington. He finished his senior season at Laney averaging 22.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Wilson is tied with another Laney alum, NBA legend Michael Jordon, for most points scored in a game (42).
After a stint at Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham following an impressive high school career, Wilson had to find his next landing spot. With several offers on the table to play college basketball, the Port City native was all set to continue his playing days at College of Charleston.
But, a coaching change in Charleston led Wilson on a different path, eventually settling in 90 minutes south of Wilmington in nearby Conway, South Carolina, under the direction of veteran Coach Cliff Ellis.
Ellis is fourth on the all-time career wins list among active NCAA Division I Coaches, with 797 wins behind only Mike Krzyzewski (Duke, 1,052), Jim Boeheim (Syracuse, 888) and Bob Huggins (West Virginia, 798).
“I’ve really grown up a lot transitioning as a player and person,” Wilson said. “We have a great coaching staff. Coach [Ellis] is a Hall of Fame coach. He does a great job of teaching us as players how to play the game and how to make smart plays in time and situation. They’ve taught me a lot since I’ve been here.
“Prep school really helped me out too. It helped me play against some better competition to give me extra time to work on my game before coming to Coastal Carolina,” he added.
Since his decision to play for the Chanticleers, Wilson has racked up a ton of memorable experiences. From taking charter flights travelling as a Division I athlete, to playing in cities he likely would never had a chance to visit, the Wilmington native is thankful for the opportunity to play at a high level and enjoying each and every day as a college basketball player.
He helped guide the Chanticleer basketball program to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. Wilson was ranked as the 12th top freshmen scorer in the country. As a sophomore, Wilson averaged 20.3 points per game in the Big South Tournament en route to Big South Tournament MVP and All-Tournament team honors. Moving into his final season at Coastal Carolina, he entered the year as the programs 10th leading scorer.
On Nov. 30, Wilson took another step up the career-scoring leader board by moving into fifth place with his 1,500th career point. Coming out of the Wofford game on Dec. 19, Wilson has 1,578 points, just 43 points from moving into fourth on the all-time list at Coastal.
“Going to the NCAA Tournament is probably the closest thing you’re going to get to feeling like a pro,” Wilson said. “I remember when we went to the hotel before playing against Virginia. They welcomed us with open arms. There’s nothing like it especially the first time you go. The amount of media coverage you get. It’s really something I’m grateful for to have the opportunity to go to twice in the three years I’ve been here.”
While most of the accolades have already been achieved for Wilson, with the exception of an NCAA Tournament win, the Port City product is looking to help his team as the Chanticleers begin its inaugural season in the Sun Belt Conference. Coastal Carolina joined the Sun Belt in July 2015.
As his sights begin to turn to the potential opportunities that lie ahead in the not so distant future, Wilson is sticking to the grindstone of competing day in and day out. He hopes to continue his basketball career at the professional level following the conclusion of his season year, with aspirations of teaching the game he loves to kids.
“Not many people get to what I’ve been able to do,” Wilson added. “I just try to enjoy every moment I can. Basketball isn’t going to last forever so you have to enjoy every moment you can.”