COLUMBIA CITY — It’s a cold January night and the Columbia City Eagles boys basketball team is at work in the gym trying to learn rotations for a zone defense. Some of the players are getting frustrated as they aren’t rotating to open shooters, and head coach Brett Eberly tells Mitchell Wilson to get back on the floor.
Wilson nudges one of his frustrated teammates and says, “Hey, watch me, I’ll show you how to do it.”
There was no more frustration as Wilson’s words and actions had calmed his teammates. Wilson, a junior, is the Eagles’ leader not just in games, but in practice as well. And his hard work is starting to pay off in the record books of Columbia City basketball, as Wilson went over the 1,000 point plateau the Eagles’ game against Bellmont on Jan. 4.
“He’s the leader on our team,” Eberly said. “He’s the guy who gets everyone in the right spot and says everything is going to be OK.”
On the season, Wilson is scoring 20.2 points per game with 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and two assists each game. On the defensive end, it is Wilson who draws the assignment of guarding the opposing teams’ best players on the perimeter.
“He takes our team to a different level,” Eberly said. “Very rarely do you see a player who is special on both ends of the floor.”
Going over 1,000 points puts Wilson in rare company. He is just outside the all-time top-five scorers in the history of Columbia City basketball. Wilson needs less than 100 points to put him into the third all-time scoring spot, surpassing Derek Hinen. And, with one more season still to play, Wilson could have a legitimate shot at breaking the school’s all-time scoring mark of 1,646 points held by Bill Schwarz — a record set nearly 60 years ago.
“It’s an honor,” said Wilson of reaching 1,000 points. “I’m trying not to focus too much on it during the season.”
Wilson did acknowledge that he knows Schwarz’s mark is within reach. But for now, he is focused on the task at hand, which is trying to win as many games as possible this season. He would like to help the team finish the year with a winning record and pick up some conference victories along the way.
“I just want to compete and get better in practice everyday,” Wilson said.
Schwarz set the scoring mark in 1960. Wilson could potentially set the all-time mark exactly 60 years after the record was established. The Eagles play eight more regular season games this year before the sectional tournament. By the end of this season, Wilson could be within 400 points of breaking a record that has stood the test of time with some great players making their way through the program.
“A lot of those guys I watched growing up,” Wilson said. “I look up to a lot of those guys.”
Some players are scorers. Others defensive specialists. Wilson is that rare combination of a player who can contribute whatever his team needs when it needs it most. And along the way, he has put his name into the record books for Columbia City basketball.