Rod Wilmont - Leading By Example
Jan. 11, 2007
It all comes down to experience.
With a young team taking to Branch McCracken Court in Assembly Hall this season, first-year head coach Kelvin Sampson has been looking for those players with experience to pave the way for the newest Hoosiers. In fifth-year senior guard Roderick Wilmont, Sampson has found his guy.
"Coach harps on me to be a leader on this team, especially since I've been here a long time and I've seen a lot," Wilmont said. "Off the court, school-wise, I just talk to the guys in certain situations that we go through. I've been through a lot of situations, both with Coach Davis and Coach Sampson, so it's just learning from experience. I try to tell the younger guys and the guys that come over from junior college what this type of atmosphere is like."
After redshirting his freshman season of 2002-03, Wilmont has worked hard to become a constant contributor in the Hoosier lineup throughout his time on the court. One of the Big Ten's top sixth men during his junior season, Wilmont posted 10 double-digit scoring efforts off the bench in 2005-06, the most since Kirk Haston (1998-99) and Greg Graham (1991-92) accomplished the feat. However, the Miramar, Fla., native has exceptional drive and work ethic, and that manifested itself into a summer spent working on his ball-handling, paying a lot of attention to detail and watching film, and a four-game stint in Australia as a member of the Big Ten Foreign Tour Team.
Wilmont was one of five players to average in double figures on that trip with 10.5 points per game, and was the third-leading rebounder at 7.5 per game. He parlayed that success into a career-high 24 points in the Hoosiers' season-opening contest against Lafayette on Nov. 13. Eighteen of those points came on a career-best six 3-pointers and the guard also grabbed a career-high five steals.
"One thing I can say is that I've gotten better every year," Wilmont said. "That's one thing that I wanted to do, every year I wanted to get better at something. I still do what I do and bring energy to the team, but also work on my skills, and that's what I've done every year since I've been here."
With the first double-double of his career (20 points and 10 rebounds) against Western Illinois on Dec. 6 and setting, then tying, a career high with 10 rebounds twice already this season, it looks like all of Wilmont's hard work is paying off. Then, there is also his competitive nature to consider.
"To me, competing means being able to hit a big shot for your team, especially when you need it," he explained. "That's just playing hard and a love of competition. I know that when I lose, it hurts me, because I give so much out there."
While his play helps lead the Hoosiers on the court, it is his example that leads the team off of it. Often one of the earliest arrivals to practice and someone that works on his shot constantly, Wilmont uses his work ethic to influence his younger, less experienced teammates.
"One of the freshmen asked me, 'Why do you shoot so much, why are you doing this?'" Wilmont said. "I shoot a lot to make sure that when I do take shots in games, I feel like it's going in every time. It's especially for the road, because you're not going to have your fans behind you at road games. Fans of other schools want you to do badly, but you have the confidence to take shots like that because you know that you worked at it, and that's why I shoot a lot."
Because he gives his all on the court, Wilmont has little time off of it to enjoy his other hobby - playing the trumpet. A jazz fan, the senior cites Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong among his favorite composers.
"Off the court, I occasionally pick up my trumpet and play once in a while, but I haven't played lately," Wilmont said. "I've played since I was six years old, but since basketball takes up a lot of time, I just do it now when I have free time."
With the success that the Hoosiers are having this season, IU fans are hoping that Wilmont won't have much more time to play his trumpet in the near future. They, and if his IU teammates embrace the same competitive fire of their leader, are looking for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.
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