Basketball Wilson

PREVIEW: Wilson Boys’ Basketball

The Wilson Bruins are coming off of their most successful season in a decade under third-year coach James Boykin, and have the talented returning backcourt to make some noise again.

“We obviously want to improve on last year but with a new group, there’s always new challenges,” Boykin said. “I’m excited to see if this group can handle the pressure of expectations that Wilson hasn’t had in a long time.”

Wilson won 22 games last season, and beat Simi Valley in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3AA playoffs. The Bruins have been moved up to Division 2A, but will do so without last year’s top scorers Matt Schmidt and Jayden Woodard, who both graduated.

Boykin said his team will only go as far as twin bothers Pektra and Verak Monh take them. The senior guards have varsity experience and play an aggressive brand of basketball that works for Boykin’s wide-open system. Junior Johnny Chan (pictured, right) will join them in the backcourt. He scored a team-high 19 points against St. Anthony last week.

“We’re all talented in different ways, so we all bring something a little different to the table,” Chan said. “I don’t really feel like a third wheel. We play off of each other.”

Chan said he hasn’t been surprised with Boykin’s quick success because of how honest he was with the players.

“He was very straightforward and showed he wants to win,” Chan said. “He told us about the perception of Wilson and how we would change it. We always keep that in mind to put in the sweat equity and the time to change the program.”

Senior Eliott Livolsi will run the fourth guard spot in the starting lineup alongside 6’7” forward Jackson Barnhill (pictured). The transfer is enjoying his time in a more open offense, but knows he can’t fill the shoes of Matt Schmidt.

“Obviously there are comparisons because we’re both tall and we’re both Caucasians,” Barnhill said. “But we play very different. Matt was more of a true big man. I’m trying to develop my game to be more of a perimeter wing stretch four.”

Boykin said Barnhill is one of his best shooters who has great defensive instincts, and that he wants him and the entire team to be comfortable during frantic situations in order to thrive in the open floor.

“We have to apply a lot of pressure and keep the court spread to make it extremely uncomfortable for other teams,” he said.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.
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