Getting to put on his dancing shoes: Person starts a new legacy
By: Shayla Terry
All the hard work of the last three years came to a glimmering moment of success for Crenshaw County native, and Troy University basketball player Wesley Person, Jr. when his team finally reached the big dance — the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I basketball tournament.
Person, a junior at the university, says his time at Troy has been a building process for the Trojans.
“Coming here early, we didn’t win as much,” he said. “I just kept believing in the process, and kept working hard and just making sure everyone stayed on board. Finally this year, we were able to have success in the winning department, and got some things turned around.”
Troy, who finished the season with at 22-14 record, won its bid by clinching The Sunbelt Championship.
“It felt great,” Person said. “It just felt like all of your hard work finally paid off. I’m relieved that we finally got to be rewarded for our efforts.”
Troy would go on to play the No. 7 ranked basketball program of the NCAA, Duke University.
“I wanted to focus on just playing our game,” Person said. “I know Duke has a great program, and they have a bunch of future NBA guys on their team. We knew it would be tough, but we just went out there and played our game.”
In Friday night’s game, Troy rallied well against Duke for much of the first half. Yet in the end, the Trojans fell short to the Blue Devils, 87-65.
“It was a good experience for us to play in the highest tournament in college basketball,” Person said. “We now know what it takes to make it there. We’re going to continue on the path of hard work that we are on, and work to make it there next year.”
Person’s path to basketball seemed a natural decision being the son of previous National Basketball Association standout Wesley Person. Person says his father has been a part of his growth in every way.
“He’s been very influential,” he said. “He spent a lot of time working me out, and long hours in the gym trying to get me to the next level.”
Person graduated from Brantley High School in 2014. With Troy being a mere 32 miles from his hometown, Person says the transition to Troy was comfortable.
“It just felt like home,” he said. “Coach Cunningham was like another father figure for me. Being able to be in my brother and sisters’ life, and not being so far away was a big factor in my decision as well.”
Person’s younger siblings still attend Brantley Schools, and he says he takes every opportunity to support their success at the school, just as they support him.
“It’s a big deal for them to still be close,” Person said. “It means a lot to them to be able to come out and watch me play, but it also means a lot to them for me to come back home and watch some of their games. “
Though he only comes to visit about once a month, Person says he’s always in conversation with one of the most influential people of his life.
“Andrew Kilcrease is another guy who has been a big father figure in my life,” he said. “When I moved to Brantley my sophomore year, he took me under his wing and made me work hard. He’s been with me along the whole ride, and he made the trip to South Carolina this past week to watch me play.”
With another season in the books, Person is only one year from receiving his bachelor’s degree in finance.
“It went by super fast,” he said.
“I’m a year away from graduating from Troy, and it’s unbelievable how fast it went by. I’m just trying to enjoy the moments while I can, because it will be gone in a second.”
Even though he’ll be well equipped for a future in business with his degree, Person still clings tight to his ultimate dream —playing in the NBA.