Former Lady Highlander basketball player Aaliyah Wilson got a big surprise when she visited First Presbyterian Christian Academy on Friday morning. The Lady ’Lander basketball standout received a scholarship last year to play basketball at Brewton-Parker College, but her busy schedule didn’t give the school administrators an opportunity to honor her with a signing ceremony.
On Friday morning, Wilson was honored for that scholarship and for another major accomplishment — playing on the BPC varsity squad as a true freshman.
Wilson played in 20 games, averaging 7.8 minutes per game. She scored 18 points and had 10 total rebounds, eight assists and four steals her freshman season.
The Lady Barons went 10-19 overall and 4-16 in the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association South States Athletic Conference.
More importantly, Wilson was just honored with BPC’s coaches’ award for her performance on and off the court.
Racking up honors and earning the right to play on the varsity squad comes as no surprise to the folks at FPCA and St. James’ after-school program in Holmestown, where Wilson grew up.
“This is a proud moment for the St. James after-school program and FPCA,” FPCA board member and St. James sponsor Jay Osteen said. “Aaliyah grew up in Holmestown and participated in our after-school care and she moved up through the after-school program and into public school and, eventually, here at FPCA, where she was a straight-A student.”
St. James Sports Center Director and Highlander boys basketball coach Ernie Walthour said he is proud of Wilson.
“She is a great success story for us,” he said.
Lady ’Lander basketball coach Rosby Frasier said she knew Wilson would have a breakout year — even as a freshman — based on how well she performed at FPCA.
“Aaliyah is honestly the definition of the type of person you would love to have on your basketball team — a great student in the classroom and a great student of the sport,” she said. “She was always willing to do what we asked of her.”
Girls assistant coach Mike Brown said he first met Wilson a few years back when he spotted her in the gym and started working with her on fundamentals.
“I knew she was a great student in the classroom, and I watched her and worked with her in basketball in the gym, and I knew she would be an asset to this school — not just for basketball, but as a leader in the classroom as well,” he said.
Joining in on the surprise was Wilson’s older sister, Yolanda, who said she is proud of her little sister for doing everything she set out to do.
Wilson admits it wasn’t an easy year, especially playing the guard spot.
“It was different, and I was one of the only freshmen at the beginning of the season. I had the tough end of it with the coach always on me, but it was more motivating,” she said. “I have to keep working and work harder than usual to keep improving.”