I honestly think Will is the busiest person I've ever met. His entire year is filled to the brim with basketball practice, conditioning, more practice, and trips across the US to play against other competitive teams. It takes real organization skills to be able to handle schoolwork on top of all the training he does over the year, and his dedication really shows.
Will started playing basketball when he was around 6 or 7 years old. He had always been the tallest person, so that made it easier to reach over other people- this is what helped him play well in the youth leagues. He also said that this is why he enjoyed the sport. He was dominant and imposing during the game. But it was during 6th grade that he actually began to really narrow his attention on the sport. He played on the 8th grade basketball team while still in 6th grade, and he viewed this as a challenge. He was still young, at around 10 years old, and was playing against 13 and 14 year olds. The difference in age also came with a difference in skill and experience. Will began improving as time passed. He played on the 8th grade team 3 times, and this allowed him to hone his abilities.
In 7th grade, he played on a traveling team called Lightning. They traveled all over the state to participate in competitions. His most notable trip was to Miami, since he'd never been there before, which made it all the more exciting.
Coach Williams served as Will's coach throughout his middle school years. He got to know him well, and learned his strengths and weaknesses to help him improve.
In 9th grade, he played on the JV team led by Coach Williams. This definitely helped, he said, because the coach already knew what he was good at and furthered his skills. It was around this time that Will noticed everyone else had grown taller and become more athletic. It was difficult at times, but he used this as a reason to stop relying on his height and really focus on how he played the game. During the fall of 9th grade, he began conditioning and weight lifting with the varsity team to improve.
During the spring of last year, he played on a team called Florida Force, a travel team which began when the school basketball season ended. Every weekend, they'd go somewhere to play- Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, etc. When school ended, he traveled to Ohio to play in a Lebron James tournament. Some kids on the team had never been on an airplane before, so it was fun to watch their reactions, he said. During every week of June, he goes to school to train from 12-3 p.m.
All the national tournaments he played in were in Orlando because Disney hosts lots of games. In July, he played for national championship and came in 8th place, which is incredible considering there were 125 teams there. When August picked up, he trained every day until 5:00 until the middle of October, which is when practice really started. He comes home at 9-9:30 every day, eats, and tries to do his homework as quickly as possible. He mentions that this has definitely been a struggle.
One thing he's looking forward to this year is going to Alaska for about a week for the school team in January. The season then ends in the middle of February, but he trains until June, with July as his only break.
Will also explained that when he started playing on the varsity team, he realized that everyone played very well on this level. He understood that in order to be a formidable opponent, he needed to get stronger and improve his skills. This is why he conditions and practices every day. However, because there are lots of seniors on the team this year, he isn't expecting to be in games much this year, but he's trying to master as much as he can to be ready to be a main player next season.
This is definitely a complicated schedule, but Will handles this pretty well, and he's able to stay on top of his homework, despite the late hour he arrives home every day. Basketball has become a pretty essential part of his life, but he's managed to work his way around it to get other things done. He's clearly very dedicated, and if he continues in this manner, he's well on his way towards a basketball scholarship, something he told me in our last interview that he's been wanting.