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Jamil Wilson smiles for all the right reasons

Jamil Wilson likes to smile. When his team is losing, he smiles. When his team is winning, he smiles. When he walks to class, he smiles.

Monday night, Jamil Wilson had plenty of reasons to smile.

Wilson finished Marquette’s 89-76 victory over DePaul with his first career double-double, including career-highs in points (18) and rebounds (10). Filling in at center for the injured Davante Gardner, the 6-foot-7 Wilson patrolled the paint, found open looks in transition and played superb defense on yet another team that had a height advantage on the Golden Eagles.

“To have another threat on the court like that, it makes everything around you much easier,” senior forward Jae Crowder said. “It takes pressure off me, (Darius Johnson-Odom), and other guys too, so it’s huge.”

Through it all, both when Marquette was trailing by 12 in the first half and when it took a 15-point lead late in the second, Wilson’s smile could be seen all the way from the top of the rafters at the Allstate Arena.

While his ear-to-ear smile doesn’t necessarily instill fear into the hearts of Big East opponents, Wilson said the smile is the result of allowing himself to relax during games.

Chances are if you find Jamil Wilson on the court at any given time, he's got a smile on his face. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

“I like to play loose, confident and happy,” Wilson said. “And smiling keeps me in the game. When I’m on edge I tend to mess things up because I’m over-thinking things. So that’s how I relax.”

Crowder said Wilson’s easygoing personality on the court helps the rest of the team relax and stay positive.

“That’s his personality and that’s what he brings,” Crowder said. “As a team, that’s what you need. You need one guy that through hell, he’s just looking on the bright side of things and helping you through everything.”

But it hasn’t always been easy for Wilson to smile or be happy.

Almost five years ago, Wilson’s mother, Carolyn, lost her battle with cancer.

“It’s been a toll on me every day,” Wilson said. “I still feel like it was yesterday. But I fight through it every day. I carry her words of wisdom and her heart and soul with me every day, and I try to make every decision off that. I’ve been through a lot of stuff that no one has been through, but I keep pushing through.”

Through his hardships, head coach Buzz Williams said Wilson has been an inspiration to him as a person because of how his forward has responded to hardships.

“He is by far the perfect example of what I hope my children become as humans,” Williams said. “And because of that, he’s an inspiration of what I should be as a human, and I struggle with that in coaching him, because he’s such a good person.”

Williams said Wilson could wind up being one of the best players Marquette has had in the past few decades, but said that Jamil Wilson as a person is what makes him special.

“I think he’s anointed by God because of who he is,” Williams said. “It’s a lot deeper than just (basketball). For him to be who he is says an unbelievable amount about him.”

Wilson said the Marquette community has been a second family for him. That, and nine Big East wins, has helped keep the contagious smile on his face.

“I just try to put a smile on everyone’s face,” Wilson said. “If you can make somebody smile, you can change the world little by little. I know it’s a big world, but you have to start somewhere.”

Monday night, he started in Rosemont.

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5 Comments on “Jamil Wilson smiles for all the right reasons”

  1. Wx Warrior
    February 7, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    Great post! My 6yo son went to MUBB Camp last summer. Jamil is his favorite player because of his interactions with him at the camp. We went to one of the Pro-Am games this summer and while playing in a game, Jamil looked over, saw my son, and SMILED while saying, “What’s up little man?” Now he’s my fav as well

    • February 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

      That’s a fantastic story. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Mary Ficke
    February 7, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    What a great article…thoroughly agree with Jamil…keep smiling and playing inspired ball for Marquette!

  3. Amy Marciniak
    February 7, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    I was at the game last night and sat behind the MU Bench. After the game, Jamil received a huge hug and lots of smiles from his grandparents. I did not know much about his history especially his Mother. It was a very touching moment to see. Great game Jamil

  4. huebnersusan@sbcglobal.net
    February 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Continue your great work Jamil as it is a pleasure to see you not on the sidelines this year. Have your picture on my refrigerator as it was taken with me at the barbeque last summer. I treasure the picture as a longtime Marquette fan and and as an old lady. Your smile is contagious and helps me each day as we lost a daughter and one of the last times I saw her was at a Marquette game. Your Mother is smiling down on you.

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