Wilson emerging as Rutgers leader on, off court

The Rutgers women’s basketball team has struggled to play together over the past couple of games while overcoming fatigue from traveling as far north as Vancouver, Canada.

In their most recent game, the Scarlet Knights (5-3) fell 67-51 to Virginia Tech (8-0) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge last week. They are in need of some leadership heading into their next match against Harvard this weekend. 

Graduate student guard Charise Wilson might just claim that leadership role.

A West Babylon, N.Y. native, Wilson spent her undergraduate career at Rhode Island and was one of the top players for the Rams.

During her freshman year, she was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year and averaged 16.1 points a game, third in the nation among all freshmen.

Wilson's sophomore and junior seasons were much the same. She was named to the A-10 Second Team All-Conference as a sophomore. In that same season, she set a season record of 84 made 3-pointers. 

In her junior season, Wilson averaged 19.1 points per game, the second highest season average in Rhode Island’s history. She also became the program’s leader with 197 3-pointers throughout her career.

Wilson would only play the first two games of her final season as a Ram, before injuries became prevalent. She doesn't count them when reflecting back on her final season at Rhode Island.

“I only played two games,” Wilson said. “I had medical hardships, so I ended up sitting out the rest of the season. Those two games I never really count for myself. I really just sat out all of last year.”

For her final year of eligibility, Wilson originally committed to in-state rival Seton Hall, but quickly changed her decision to Rutgers. Her reason? 

“Coach Stringer,” Wilson said. “She's a legendary coach. Hall of fame coach. I wanted to go somewhere where I could learn as much as possible basketball-wise and off the court.”

Hall of Fame head coach C. Vivian Stringer is one of the most prominent collegiate basketball coaches in history. She notched her 1,000th career win this season at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) against Central Connecticut State, earlier in November.

As for Wilson, her position allows for the undertaking of a leadership role both on-and-off the court. 

She has not had the smoothest ride as a Ram. But, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that can really benefit the Knights as the season moves forward.

“I play a tough position,” Wilson said. “I play point guard, so I have to talk a lot, use what I know since I played for four years and just help the younger girls as much as possible.”

Coming to Rutgers has not been the easiest transition for her. Fortunately, the immense challenges that are a part of Stringers’ program are what excites Wilson to continue to grow as a student athlete. 

Wilson has hit the ground running in her sixth year of eligibility. She logged a season high of 17 points against Eastern Tennessee in Vancouver and was the Knights' top performer in assists with six against Stony Brook and Albany. 

Wilson was ranked ninth in the Big Ten with an average of 4.3 assists per game prior to Rutgers' loss to the Hokies.

“I wouldn't say easy,” Wilson said. “It's been a different role. It's harder competition, so I just try to stay the course and do what I know and play my best game.”

Currently, she is averaging 9.1 points per game, and that average may jump as the season continues. In the past two games, Wilson has scored double-digit points and has taken the reigns on points scored by the Knights.

Wilson’s chance to help the rest of her teammates will come this Saturday against the Crimson in Boston, Mass., where Rutgers will look for a win after their tough loss to Virginia Tech last week.

“The ball is in my hands a lot, so I learn through my mistakes, play through my mistakes, kind of got yelled at for four years, so that experience is there,” Wilson said. “I would say composure, staying calm throughout the game, giving a face to my teammates to look to when things get rough.”

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