Jon Teitel's "Forgotten Legends" Series: Albany Legend Jamar Wilson

    
November 2nd, 2010
In the most recent installment of his "Forgotten Legends" interview series, CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time talking with Albany legend Jamar Wilson. Wilson led the Great Danes to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances, the first of which came in 2006 when he and his teammates controlled the flow of play for 30 minutes against top-seed UConn in 2006. The school's all-time leading scorer, Wilson is now playing in Europe.

Jon Teitel: You were named All-America East during each of your 4 years at Albany. How were you able to play at such a high level for your entire college career?
Jamar Wilson:
Since the day I arrived on campus I had the opportunity to play right away. The coaches did a great job of staying on us to making sure we could achieve as much as possible.

JT: In 2003 as a freshman you scored a career-high 39 points on 14-17 FG against New Hampshire. Was it just one of those scenarios where every shot you put up seemed to go in because you were "in the zone"?
JW:
I approached it just like every other game, but I remember that I hit a few shots and felt like I could not miss.

JT: You only played one game during the 2003-2004 season due to a right knee injury. Were you nervous about your ability to come back the following year?
JW:
Not at all. I injured myself during the preseason, and we could not figure out what was going on. I continued to practice with the team, but would always be in excruciating pain after only a few minutes. We found that my kneecap was dislocated, and it was devastating because I was ready to play and produce. It might have been one of my best moves because I was able to observe everything from the sideline in practice.

JT: In 2006 during an upset of Utah, you tumbled backwards over an opponent, hit the back of your head on the court, and ended up with a sprained neck, but you returned to play in the second half. How bad was the injury, and did you worry that it might have derailed your basketball career forever?
JW:
I actually fell on my head. I was out of it and do not remember too much, which is a shame because it was a game to remember after beating such a high-caliber team. The trainer told me that I had a concussion, and some of my teammates said that I was not even able to drink a cup of Gatorade without spilling it all over myself!

JT: In 2006 and 2007 you were named conference Player of the Year. What did it mean to you to win such outstanding individual honors?
JW:
It was an amazing feeling, but I attribute it all to my teammates and coaches because I would not have had as good a career without them. They were there every day to push all of us to be the best that we could be.

JT: What are your memories of the 2006 NCAA Tournament (Wilson scored 17 points and had a school tournament record six assists in Albany's first-ever tournament game, a loss to Connecticut)?
JW:
It was a bittersweet memory right after the game, because we left everything out on the floor. It felt good knowing that we would get some respect for playing so well, but looking back now it bothers me a little bit because we had a chance to win that game. It would have changed our lives forever; they might have even made a movie about that!

JT: What are your memories of the 2007 America East Tournament final (Wilson scored 22 points and were named tournament MOP in a one-point win over Vermont on their home floor)?
JW:
My fondest memory is of the final 17 seconds, which felt like it took eight hours; I have never been so nervous in my life. Vermont coach Mike Lonergan decided not to call a timeout, and I was pretty much shaking in my shoes. Once we got the ball back it just felt surreal. All I could think of was why it took so long for the seconds to tick off the clock.

JT: What are your memories of the 2007 NCAA Tournament (Wilson scored a school tournament record 25 points in a loss to Virginia)?
JW:
That was another bittersweet memory, but kind of a nightmare. We were more prepared than we had ever been, and we were very confident going into that game. The thing that hurt us was that Virginia was on a losing streak entering the tourney, so they came out very tough and played very hungry. If we had caught them on a different night, we might have had a chance to win.

JT: Since graduation you have played professionally in Europe. What have you learned from the experience, and how does it compare to college basketball?
JW:
Pro ball in Europe is amazing due to the different culture. You learn how to treat your body a lot better. In college you eat whenever you can and everything is provided for you. My first year in Europe was a wake up call. You are by yourself, have to pay your own bills, and make your own meals. I had a tendency to skip meals occasionally, so I have had to become less lazy and make sure that I eat the right things.

JT: When people look back on your career, how do you want to be remembered the most?
JW:
I always chose the team aspect over the individual aspect, so my team will be more of a legacy than I am. I want to be remembered as being a positive person who played hard. We had such a tight-knit group, and it was one of the best feelings in the world to be a part of that team.

Jamar is also on on Jon's list of best fantasy players in America East history.

Albany: Jamar Wilson (2007) 2,164 PTS (#1), 488 AST (#2), 80.9 FT% (#5), two-time All-American, two-time conference Player of the Year

Binghamton: Jeff Merrill (1994) 1,603 PTS (#3), 757 REB (#1), 58.9 FG% (#1)

Boston University: Tunji Awojobi (1997) 2,308 PTS (#1), 1,237 REB (#1), 302 BLK (#1), conference Player of the Year

Hartford: Vin Baker (1993) 2,238 PTS (#1), 951 REB (#3), 279 BLK (#1), two-time All-American, conference Player of the Year

Maine: Rufus Harris (1980) 2,206 PTS (#1), 806 REB (#4), conference Player of the Year

UMBC: Larry Simmons (1990) 1,805 PTS (#1), 413 AST (#4), 240 STL (#1), 250 3PM (#2)

New Hampshire: Al McClain (1984) 1,861 PTS (#1), 415 AST (#2), 306 STL (#1)

Stony Brook: Emeka Smith (1993) 1,978 PTS (#1), 387 AST (#2), 194 STL (#1), 185 3PM (#2), 84.6 FT% (#3)

Vermont: Taylor Coppenrath (2005) 2,452 PTS (#2), 839 REB (#4), three-time All-American, three-time conference Player of the Year