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Wilson leads Vidalia boys basketball team in scoring

Vidalia High School’s Julius Wilson drives to the basket against Tensas High School. Wilson led Vidalia in scoring as a junior.  (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Vidalia High School’s Julius Wilson drives to the basket against Tensas High School. Wilson led Vidalia in scoring as a junior. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — Julius Wilson is carrying a burden, all while trying to unleash his killer instinct.

Smooth, graceful in his path toward the basket, Wilson’s ability to drive with ease and finish at the rim makes him one-half of what Vidalia head coach Robert Sanders called the best backcourt in the area before the season.

Despite his athleticism and success on the floor, Wilson, who leads the Vikings in scoring as a junior and who has produced a minimum of 13 points per game in the past three seasons at Vidalia, isn’t convinced he’s tapped into his full potential just yet.

“I’ve been told, ‘You don’t have the eye of the tiger,’ and ‘You don’t know how good you can be,’” Wilson said. “And you know, I don’t. I love passing the ball too, but I need to be more aggressive. There’s a lot in me that I haven’t pulled out yet, but I will. I will hopefully soon.”

Wilson starts most games with a passive-aggressive approach, passing the ball around, trying to get his teammates involved. Then, he finds his opening, makes his move to the basket and begins to impact the game by driving in the lane. When his team needs a basket, his grip on the ball tightens, as he looks to take the game over, and fill his leadership role.

Slowly but surely, through the coaching staff trying to drag it out of him, Wilson is becoming the team’s leader. Still, if you ask him, he prefers the role he had last season, the one he earned through pushing the pace on offense and defense.

“That’s what we all look for is that spark,” Wilson said. “I’ve never been vocal. I would rather fill that spark role. I love that.”

Naturally quiet, Wilson is adjusting to becoming a leader, now that he’s no longer an underclassmen and now that Isiah Thomas, who led the Vikings in scoring with 19.4 points per game, has graduated.

“You could say I feel more pressure because I’m so used to playing beside Isiah, and without him out there, it’s a whole new thing for me,” Wilson said. “He was way more vocal than I am, I tell you that”

Has Thomas’ absence affected Wilson’s approach to the game in 2014-15?

“I think it’s tougher for him to be the go-to-guy, not so much with him being out there without Isiah,” Sanders said. “I think he’s getting more comfortable with everyone, though.”

Wilson is. He’s grown to appreciate the skillset of Desmond Bindon, share the backcourt load with Malik Jefferson and use bigger bodies like Overton Lewis and Curtis McNulty on the low block.

Wilson is becoming more aware of what’s in front of him, too. For Wilson and the Vikings to succeed in 2015, Wilson has to be the go-to-guy without putting his teammates on an island, a tough task for any player at the high school level. Wilson knows that his ability to do so will decide what type of year Vidalia will have.