RED SPRINGS - Anton Wilson has burst on to NC State's radar during his senior year at Red Springs (N.C.) Flora MacDonald. He hopes that one game in particular this season could help alter his life.
Wilson had arguably the finest performance of his young basketball career by hitting eight three-pointers en route to 30 points against No. 1 nationally ranked Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy last Saturday at Red Springs High. Wilson also got fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three free throws.
Wilson and Flora MacDonald trailed 23-3 at one point in the first quarter, but that is where he started his scoring binge. He made six three-pointers in the first half - he finished the half with 19 points - and brought the Cougars all the way back. Oak Hill recovered to take a 36-29 halftime lead, but Wilson left his mark.
Oak Hill switched to an aggressive matchup zone in the second half, which slowed Wilson down some, but allowed the Warriors to pull away for a 73-51 victory. NC State point guard signee Tyler Lewis had 10 points and five assists in the victory for undefeated Oak Hill.
"It felt great and I was in a rhythm," Wilson said. "I was just knocking them down. I knew that I had to knock down shots for us in order to win. We just came up short.
"I'm just humble and this is great. I'm glad I did this and I had to do what was best for my team."
Flora MacDonald had previously lost 85-59 at Oak Hill Academy on Nov. 15. Wilson had been looking forward to the rematch.
The lanky 6-foot-5, 180-pounder is known for his outside shooting. Oak Hill has a pair of top 100 wings in Georgetown-bound D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and UCLA signee Jordan Adams, but Wilson managed to find room to bury jumper after jumper. Wilson also managed to play the end of the second quarter and the second half with four fouls.
"Flora MacDonald coach Derrick Bond just told me to take my time shooting the ball instead of rushing, so I planted my feet and shot the ball the way I should shoot," Wilson said.
Wilson also guarded Lewis during different stretches of the game. Lewis later learned that NC State was recruiting Wilson.
"He played really good and I heard that NC State assistant coach Rob Moxley is looking at him," Lewis said. "Hopefully, we can reel him in."
Wilson unofficially visited NC State on Feb. 4, when the Wolfpack cruised by Wake Forest 87-76 at the RBC Center. The NC State coaching staff has been watching him throughout his senior season.
Wilson snuck in an official visit to Rhode Island in mid-February, and Rams coach Jim Baron followed up by coming to see Wilson in the last week. Rhode Island, Cleveland State, Central Michigan and Baylor, have offered, and Virginia Tech, Iowa, Boston College, Seton Hall and Virginia, have shown interest.
"I took one last week to Rhode Island," Wilson said. "I liked the environment, how the coach treated me and how the coach said I could come in and play. I still have my eyes open. They get up and down the court, how I like to play."
Wilson followed up the Oak Hill game by scoring 22 first-half points in a blowout first-round 107-32 victory over Ridgecroft School on Tuesday to start the NCIHSAA 1-A state tournament. No. 2-seeded Flora MacDonald returns to action at 2:30 p.m. today against North Hills Christian School in Raleigh.
Wilson has high hopes for what the next three days can bring.
"We want the state championship, that's the only way," Wilson said. "I've been wanting a state championship ring for a long time."