With the Class 2A playoffs quickly approaching, Randallstown senior guard Ahmaad Wilson looks to lead the Rams on an extended postseason run.
Having reached the state semifinals while playing at Owings Mills as a sophomore in 2011, Wilson knows what it takes to get to Comcast Center. He's excited about the possibility of a return trip to College Park with No. 11 Randallstown.
Wilson fit in immediately after transferring to the school this year. A team leader, he's averaging 16.0 points, 3.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals for the Rams.
With a balanced lineup that also features Marcus Varner and Tommy Heard, Randallstown appears to be a viable challenger for the Class 2A state championship. Proof came at the Basketball Academy last month when they beat two Baltimore City powers — No. 8 City and No. 12 Poly — at Morgan State.
Wilson, a 'B' student who has signed to play at Central Connecticut State, is a four-year varsity player who played one season at Archbishop Curley before playing two seasons at Owings Mills.
He had a difficult start to his senior year at Randallstown when his older sister, Shanae' Griffin, died in September, but said it has made him work even harder to make her proud.
With the playoffs approaching, how is this part of the season different for you?
Everything means a lot more. Practice is getting more intense, and we know we can't take a night off. Friday [a loss against Owings Mills], we definitely let one slip away, but hopefully we can see them again in the playoffs. Everything is a lot more serious now.
What is your role on the team?
My role on the team is being a leader on and off the court. In my two quarters here, my grade point average is like 4.4, so I'm definitely trying to get my academics up and set an example for the kids whose grades might not be as high. And on the court, just let everybody know we're going to have our good times and our hard times and people are going to love us and hate us, and we just have to stay together as a family. In games, when we lose, things can get frustrating and emotions can get high, I just try to tell them to maintain their emotions and play together.
Was taking on a leadership role difficult being on a new team?
It's definitely not easy, but I think from when [Owings Mills] played Randallstown last year — the game I had — I think a lot of kids respected me already. So I think it made it easy for them to listen to me because I think they knew what I had accomplished prior to coming to Randallstown. I guess that made it easier instead of not knowing what I was all about. So I pretty much earned the team's respect from last year's game.
What makes this team special?
We're very big and athletic, and I've never really been part of a team with so much talent. We have a player for each position and we go very deep. I know it's late in the season, but we're still learning each other and adjusting about playing together.
Having played on a team at Owings Mills that reached the state semifinals, what does it take to make that kind of playoff run?
It takes a lot of focus. You've got to stick together no matter what. At Owings Mills in my sophomore year, that run was special because every win was close and it always came down to one or two possessions. So every possession in the playoffs can determine whether you continue to play or hand in your jersey the next day. So everything means a lot more and that's what we're trying to stress with this team — that you can't take a possession off.
What's it going to take to win a state title?
It's going to take a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice. We're definitely going to have to put the work in because it's definitely not easy. A lot of teams have talent, so it comes down to effort and who wants it more.
What did you learn about the team with the success you guys had at the Basketball Academy?
That was big for us. We knew going in we weren't predicted to win, that county teams can't win in the city. So we just took that and we worked hard at practice throughout the week and knew what we wanted to accomplish. We had already played Poly in the summer and City earlier in the season, and we knew we wanted to beat them and do whatever it takes. Both of those games, I think we started out losing and then the fourth quarter is when we came together. So if things can come together like that throughout the playoffs, a state title can definitely be in our hands.
How has the loss of your sister affected you?
It affected me a lot. The day after it happened my coach told me if I wanted to take some time off I could. I think when that happened, it just made me work harder. I came in to practice the next day and still worked hard. I just kept putting in the work because if she was still here, she would want me to keep working, and I just really want to do it for her.
What was it that you liked about Central Connecticut State?
When I first got there, it was like a family. Everything was good, we were just hanging in a dorm and it felt like home right then. It felt right.