He’s not the biggest, or most intimidating player on the court.
But former Corbin High School, and Alice Lloyd College, standout Isaac Wilson has been the most consistently dominate presence at the annual NIBROC 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament over it’s six year existence.
He’ll be playing in the tournament again this Saturday, and hopes to add a third tournament title to his trophy shelf. He’s the only player, so far, to have won the tournament twice. But the competition is always right on his heels.
No matter. Wilson welcomes it.
“Last year, I noticed a team from Lexington playing in it. We beat a team from Tennessee in the finals, and they were very good. I think it’s neat the way it has grown enough that people actually want to travel quite a ways to play in it,” Wilson said, noting the way it has changed over its six-year history.
“Competition is something I look for every day. After graduating high school and college, competition kind of leaves your life, but the tournament kind of allows me to do that again.”
Now 26-years-old, Wilson is going into his second year as head coach of the CHS girls’ varsity basketball team. That satisfies some of his naturally competitive fire, but it doesn’t compare to the visceral, raw athleticism and emotions that go with high school and college competition.
“It [the tournament] gets the competitive juices flowing for me again,” he said. “Even though I’m not working on my game every day, it’s fun to try to be as good as you once were back in the day.”
Wilson scored over 1,200 points as a point guard for the Redhounds. His teams won two 13th Region championships.
Wilson was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament his senior season.
As a key member of the Alice Lloyd College Eagles, Wilson scored over 1,500 points in his career and was an All-NAIA Scholar Athlete. He maintained a near perfect 3.9 GPA while at the school where he majored in mathematics.
Wilson was victorious in the inaugural NIBROC 3-on-3 Tournament in 2013. He and teammates Travis Raper, Tyler Wagner and another former CHS standout, Madison Johnson, defeated a team from University of the Cumberlands comprised of former UC point guard Devin Grigsby, 7-footer Jakob Pilic, and Jake Riportella.
Last year, Wilson was joined by Robert Dalton (Lawrence County High School’s all-time leading scorer), good friend and former CHS player Travis Cowden, Tyler Rogers (a Dunbar High School graduate and Intercollegiate Athletic Conference First Team selection with Alice Lloyd) and Carla Booth — a former player for Martin County High School, Eastern Kentucky University and Alice Lloyd. Booth was the first female competitor in tournament history.
Wilson’s team defeated defending champions “L-Town” in the championship game, named after their hometown of Lebanon, Tenn. The trio — Mark Sandoval, Dalton Patterson and Kyle Neal — were all friends and former teammates at Friendship Christian School where they won the Class A Tennessee state championship in 2012.
Wilson said he feels the key to success in a 3-on-3 tournament, as opposed to traditional full-court 5-on-5 competition, is having a mix of teammates that “tend to get along pretty well,” and who are all uniquely skilled.
“I think having each kind of piece to the game is important,” Wilson said. “A guard, and a big, and a scorer is the key. You don’t want three of the same type of people or you end up running into a roadblock in the tournament somewhere, especially the way it has grown to 20-plus teams in it. One of those teams is going to be able to exploit any weaknesses you have.”
While Wilson won’t have a shot at being a champion again with last year’s team — Dalton, unfortunately, won’t be able to play in this year’s tournament — he’s no stranger to winning regardless of the circumstances.
“It seems like the teams that are more balanced make it to the end,” he said. “As long as we can stay out of the loser’s bracket, and not have to fight through that, I think we will be fine. I always feel confident when I’m out on the floor competing that I’m going to win.”
Wilson will be rejoined by Cowden, Rogers and Booth this year, along with another player yet to be decided.
The NIBROC 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament will be played Saturday at the Princess Vermillion McBurney Recreation Center. On site registration begins at 9:00 a.m. Tournament begins promptly at noon. Cost is $50 per team.
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