There are only a handful of dominant big men in the Big East conference. Georgetown is fortunate to have two of the biggest – junior forward Mike Sweetney and senior center Wesley Wilson.

“I feel good about the fact that I have Wesley Wilson and ike Sweetney and nobody else in our league has Wesley Wilson and ike Sweetney,” Head Coach Craig Esherick said. “Both of them we’re going to use to our advantage. We tried to use them to our advantage last year . Everybody [on the team] realizes that those two guys are special in relation to the competition that we’re going to be facing.”

In the excitement surrounding Sweetney, however, Wilson’s contributions to the team often go all but unnoticed by fans. After sitting out his freshman year because he was academically ineligible, Wilson played in every game of his sophomore year. He spent the season spelling then-senior Ruben Boumtje Boumtje (COL ’01). In the past two seasons, Wilson has averaged 8.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game and racked up 98 blocked shots. Last season he started every game for the Hoyas.

It was, however, a roller coaster of a season for the 6-foot-11 native of Vallejo, Calif. In the first 10 games of the season, Wilson averaged just over 16 points per game and the Hoyas went 9-1. His average dropped to just over six points per game for the next 10 contests, of which Georgetown won only four. Over the same stretch, his rebounding dropped from 7.6 to only 3.1 per game. Both his scoring and rebounding numbers came back up for the last third of the season, though the Hoyas continued to struggle.

“Basically what comes to my mind is a lot of the close games that we had that we just didn’t finish up strong in,” Wilson said, “and how we’ve got to have the focus this year to finish up strong and win some games.”

Disappointed with his own inconsistent performance last year, Wilson said he has worked hard during the off-season to avoid a repeat performance this season. He spent the summer at Georgetown, taking classes and sharpening his game. Wilson said he feels confident that he could average a double double this year.

In addition to his offensive output and rebounding figures, Esherick said he would like to see Wilson become more of a defensive threat.

“I think Wesley was adequate last year as a shot-blocker, but I’d like to see Wesley try to dominate some games from the defensive end in terms of shot-blocking and rebounding. I think he’s capable of doing that,” Esherick said.

Esherick compared Wilson to Georgetown alumnus Dikembe Mutombo (FLL ’91), citing Mutombo’s dominance on the defensive end of the court as something to which he would like to see Wilson aspire.

“Mutombo impressed people with his shot-blocking and rebounding before anyone even noticed anything he could do on offense. For [Wilson] to make an improvement and for him to really get the attention of NBA scouts, I think he’s got to dominate some games from the defensive end, block some shots, dominate some games in terms of rebounding,” Esherick said.

Unlike many college basketball players, Wilson does not downplay his hopes for a future in the pros. Esherick said he would like to see Wilson succeed at the next level, and Wilson admits that he would like to follow in the footsteps of other Hoyas such as utombo, Boumtje Boumtje and Allen Iverson.

“I’m trying to graduate and move on to bigger and better things,” Wilson said. “There’s only one more level higher than this one that I’d like to go to.”

For Wilson, however, the future is quickly approaching. The immediate future brings his last season of college basketball and one last chance for personal and team success. Wilson recognizes his role as a leader on the team and the part he plays in the success of that team.

“We have several leaders. We have a lot of seniors. I’m a leader, and I’m going to step up in games,” Wilson said. “If I work hard, and somebody sees me working hard on this team, I motivate somebody else to work hard.”

“I think we all have to do a part of it,” senior forward Courtland Freeman said, “especially me, Victor [Samnick], Wes [Wilson], Mike [Sweetney], some of the guys who have been here longer. It’s going to fall mainly on our shoulders to make sure we keep this team going in the right direction.”

Esherick emphasized the maturity of this year’s team when designating leaders. He said that too much pressure was put on former guard Kevin Braswell (COL ’02) to be a leader on a young team. This year’s team is, in contrast, older and wiser. Like Wilson, the Hoyas have experienced ups and downs.

“We are far more mature than we were last season. Wesley had only played one year. This year we have a mature team and I feel good about this year’s team,” Esherick said. “We have the ability to be a better team than we were last year.”

Unlike last season, the pressure to lead the Hoyas will not be heaped onto just one player. Instead, leadership will fall to the experienced veterans of the team – Wilson included. The job is not an easy one, especially considering the rocky season that both Wilson and his team had last year.

But Wilson said he is ready to pick up his share of the responsibility. With graduation and a future ahead and a tough year behind him, he is ready to get himself and the Hoyas back on track.

“This is my third year playing, my second year starting, but I’m a senior, so I do feel some pressure,” Wilson said. “We’re going to come together as a cohesive unit and win games. That’s basically what we want to do – we want to win games. We want to finish off the games strong and we want to finish off the season strong. I just want to win.”

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