January 22, 2013 11:13:25 AM
Scott Walters - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- On the football field, a quarterback is in charge of making sure all players are in the right position to make plays.
Starkville High School's Caleb Wilson has taken that same hankering for detail to the basketball court and is quietly emerging as a leader for the Yellow Jackets.
"I have really ridden (Wilson) real hard this year," Starkville coach Greg Carter said. "There is so much there that is good. You can see what he brings to the table right away. He is beginning to deliver on that potential."
The sophomore guard scored 15 points and had eight assists and five steals Saturday in a 69-59 victory against West Point. This performance completed a three-game week of double-figuring scoring for Wilson, who has taken his game to another level and earned a spot in the starting lineup.
For his efforts, Wilson is The Dispatch's Prep Player of the Week.
"I really try to set the tone for my team," Wilson said. "A lot of teams look to seniors for leadership. I think leadership comes from playing hard and doing the things that set an example. I try to go hard on every play."
Wilson also emerged on the football field this past fall. His practice habits drew the praise of coach Jamie Mitchell and led to a couple of starts when an injury sidelined quarterback Gabe Myles.
"What you like about Caleb is the attitude," Carter said. "There is a confidence, but there is also a determination. He smiles and has a good time playing sports. But at the same time, you know the focus is there. You know he is not going to take plays off."
Starkville quickly built a double-digit lead in the opening quarter against West Point. Wilson had a big hand with six first-quarter points and steals on three of four possessions after the lead was established.
"I was really pumped because it was a rivalry game," Wilson said. "We need to come out and play with this kind of effort as a team every game. We are getting closer. It took a little while for everybody to get comfortable with one another. This is a new team, so we had some struggles. Now, we are playing some pretty good basketball."
After losing all five starters from last season's state tournament semifinalist, Carter knew his team would face a challenge this season. Starkville battled through prolonged scoring droughts early in the season. Of late, the issues have been locking down on defense when the game is on the line.
"We get closer each game," Carter said. "We are young team and it seems like when we get one area fixed, we have issues in another. I do like the work ethic of this team. It is all about finishing. We have been good at having quick starts and grabbing leads. We have to find a way to finish games. Who will be that player who steps up and makes the play when the game is on the line? We are working our way through the process of finding those players."
While Starkville only has five victories, the Yellow Jackets know the postseason is upcoming. When the playoffs begin, everybody has a clean slate.
"We have never lacked confidence," Wilson said. "The thing with this team is consistency. We just have to find a way to play four quarters every night. We have come a long way from the beginning of the season. There is no reason why this can't keep getting better."
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter