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Homegrown Talent Trevor Wilson Takes Basketball Career To Montana College

Berett Wilber

Graduation marks the end of high school for Unalaska's 34 seniors. For most, high school is the end of competitive athletics.

But valedictorian Trevor Wilson has plans to continue playing basketball at the next level.

Wilson has been playing basketball for as long as he can remember.

Credit Karie Wilson
Wilson has never been far from a basketball.

His dad coached high school basketball until he was in middle school, and Wilson spent a lot of time in the gym.  

"Ever since I was little, I was always watching the guys play during open gym, hanging out in practices, and shooting on the pull-up bar because I wasn't strong enough to shoot on big hoops yet," he said.

Growing up, none of the local teams had won a state title, so Wilson decided that would be his goal for high school.

"I was like, one of my goals is going to be to hang a banner in the gym one day," he said. "And I got to do that. So that was pretty cool and I'm definitely really grateful."

Wilson accomplished that feat in his very first year on the high school team, but he found it wasn't easy to repeat.

"I was hoping to get another chance to win state, but I definitely realized how hard it is," he said.

Boys' basketball coach Kent Russell agreed.

"He didn't realize how hard it is or how fragile a season is until [his sophomore] year," said Russell. "We were in a position to make another legitimate state run. [But] they get sick, kids get in trouble — the season is fragile. You need a little luck down the road."

Russell remembers when Wilson was in sixth grade helping power a middle school team that was so good they almost beat junior varsity.

"Usually, high school boys are bigger, stronger, and faster than junior high kids," he said. "So if we had to, we would press or [do] whatever we could do to beat them — and we had to a couple of times."

Credit Courtesy Karie Wilson
Kent Russell coached against a middle-school Trevor Wilson (pictured). Even then, he could tell Wilson was going to be a good player.

Wilson was eventually named the 2A player of the year as a junior.

Russell said he hopes Unalaska's up-and-coming athletes realize how much hard work Wilson put in behind-the-scenes to get there.

Credit Courtesy Karie Wilson
Wilson puts up a layup in Unalaska's youth basketball league.

"The younger kids get to see the finished product," he said. "They don't get to see the time put in. But when you show up and they're running a special defense to cover you and you still score 30 points, the 30-plus points were made four years ago."

Wilson isn't just a talented basketball player.

He was also a member of the varsity cross country team and qualified to run at state every year. He competed in Native Youth Olympics, twice bringing home the gold in two-foot high kick. And he carried at 4.0 GPA, graduating as valedictorian of his class.  

Still, getting to play college basketball was Wilson's dream — and getting recruited from Unalaska wasn't easy.

"I'd email people trying to find a connection," said Wilson. "I probably emailed like 20 or 30 different schools and didn't get a response back from a lot. That's OK, because you have nothing to lose for trying."

But Wilson persevered and three schools started recruiting. Now, he's taking his talents to Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana.

Unalaska has had others recruited to play in college, but Coach Russell said it's rare for local students to earn athletic scholarships.

"If you compare the athletic scholarships to the academic scholarships that come out of here, less than one percent get an athletic scholarship," he said. "[But] we have kids who sign academic scholarships every year."

Credit Courtesy Karie Wilson
Wilson signs his letter of intent to play at Rocky Mountain College in February.

Wilson said he settled on Rocky Mountain College because he has family nearby and because it offers strong academics. Plus, he received an academic scholarship.

"Even though I'm going there to play basketball, at the end of the day [I'm a] student-athlete. And student comes first," he said. "I've got to make sure I'm taking care of business inside the classroom and also on the court — but classroom first."

Wilson's major is still up in the air. He's torn between teaching and careers in exercise science, like physical therapy and athletic training.

The Unalaska Raiders are expected to look different next year without Wilson and the other graduated seniors. But the coaches say they're already scheming plays for the new team.

Zoë Sobel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2019. She returned to KUCB after a year living in Nepal and Malaysia as a Luce Scholar. She then returned to KUCB as a ProPublica reporter August of 2020 through August of 2021.
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