By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher It will be Senior Night in Ames tomorrow when the Cyclones take on Missouri. Marquis Gilstrap is the only Cyclone senior that is on the docket to be honored.
His possible replacement could be in attendance for the game and ironically enough, like Gilstrap, Southeastern Iowa Community College big man John Wilkins, a native of France, has taken a very unusual route to division one basketball.
If you’ve looked for Wilkins’ name in box scores this year, it probably has resulted in you scratching your head.
Wilkins, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound forward, hasn’t played competitive basketball all season long for Southeastern. He also didn’t play two seasons ago due to a red-shirt year, after clearinghouse issues forced him to leave Bradley.
Remember the Lucca Staiger-NCAA situation here in Ames a few years back? Wilkins has been in the middle of a similar issue with the NJCAA this season.
“With his junior club team (in France) that he was playing on, they moved some kids up just to sit on the bench with the top team,” said Wilkins’ assistant coach at Southeastern, Brian Turner. “They put their junior players in when it was a blowout or something. The NCAA ruled that he had to sit out five games, for the five games that he got in. The NJCAA rule was vague. They said that he cannot play junior college basketball so he can’t play for us but he just has to sit out five games in the NCAA.”
Of the five games that Wilkins participated in for his junior club team in France, he played a total of only 13 minutes.
Regardless, when Wilkins gets to a division one school next season, he’ll for sure have three years of eligibility.
Where will that be?
According to Turner, Iowa State is right in the thick of things along with the Indiana Hoosiers. Iowa State has offered Wilkins, as have Providence, Bradley and Illinois State. Kansas State and Indiana are also showing heavy interest. Turner said that a future visit to Indiana is very much in the picture right now as well.
Wilkins originally committed to Bradley out of high school.
“I think that Iowa State and Indiana are his two favorites,” Turner said. “They have shown the most interest, especially Iowa State.”
The reasoning as to why Wilkins is so high on Iowa State is very simple. It is his very solid relationship with the Cyclone coaching staff.
“That is the name of the game in the recruiting world,” Turner said. “If you can build a core relationship with a kid, that helps a great deal.”
Iowa State assistant coach Daniyal Robinson has been Wilkins’ lead recruiter.
Turner on Wilkins’ game…
“He can handle the ball. He can shoot it. He has 3-point range and can shoot the ball very well. He is super-athletic. He has a high basketball IQ. He can block shots and do all of that. He has a skill set that is really advanced. He has a lot of potential and a chance to be very good someday.”
Turner on if Wilkins is Big 12 ready… “He is going to have to get stronger. Other than that, he just needs to play in some games. He hasn’t played now for two years. That is probably going to be the biggest transition for him, getting back into playing other people than the same guys every day in practice. As far as drive and everything like that, he’ll be fine. He knows what he has to do to be able to play at that level.”
Is Iowa State a good fit for Wilkins? “I think that he could be successful in that program on and off the court. He is a great kid off the court and on the court, he is exactly what you would want.”