There have been ranges to the crowning second (up to now) of Simeon Wilcher’s highschool basketball profession.
Again in March, Wilcher led his Roselle Catholic squad to a 61-58 victory over Camden HS within the New Jersey Event of Champions remaining. That this was the last-ever TOC—a longstanding Backyard State custom pairing the very best groups no matter enrollment or public/non-public standing to find out a real state champion—made it that a lot sweeter for Wilcher and his teammates. The ’chip meant much more contemplating that Wilcher’s freshman season was lower quick by the arrival of the pandemic, and his Covid-impacted sophomore season was mainly a wash.
“This was actually my first full highschool season with Covid and all the pieces, so to win the final one, it was particular,” Wilcher says. “It means the world. That is the one that everyone will bear in mind.”
There are different causes plenty of people—Wilcher included—would possibly savor this one. The sport itself was an prompt traditional, going to additional time earlier than Roselle pulled out the W. After which there was the opponent: Camden was led by DJ Wagner, the consensus No. 1 participant within the Class of 2023 and two-time Gatorade state POY. On this night time, it was Wilcher—who scored 22 factors, together with an important 8-9 from the road—who got here out on prime.
A 6-4, 185-pound lead guard and consensus top-15 prospect within the ’23 class, Wilcher doesn’t appear the kind to obsess over rankings or particular person matchups. However he’s additionally a competitor who appreciates the chance to rise to a problem. Of a matchup like that unforgettable TOC remaining, he says, “It offers you that further motivation, that you simply nonetheless have one thing to show. You don’t want affirmation from anyone, however simply personally, you need to exit and present you’ll be able to compete towards anyone.”
That sentiment appears to run within the household. Simeon’s father, Serge, says they don’t pay a lot consideration to “rankings and issues of that nature—we by no means actually give an excessive amount of credence to that. We deal with what we’ve all the time executed and play aggressive basketball all 12 months spherical. We need to play towards the very best children doable.”
After he wraps his upcoming senior season, Simeon will get an opportunity to just do that when he fits up for North Carolina starting in 2023. He dedicated to the Tar Heels final fall, selecting UNC over affords from Nebraska (the place his brother, CJ, performs), Auburn, UConn and others.
In signing with Tar Heel legend-turned-head coach Hubert Davis—who led UNC to the nationwide title recreation this previous spring—Simeon says he discovered all the pieces he needed.
“Committing undoubtedly made it simpler to focus, so I might simply get on the market and compete,” he says. “My relationship with the entire teaching workers is simply rising, and I really feel like Coach Hubert actually proved himself, particularly being a first-year head coach. Individuals didn’t anticipate him to do wherever nearly as good as he did. I’m simply taking place there to maintain that going.”
“The cash and all that stuff goes to come back,” he says concerning the different non-college affords he acquired in the course of the recruiting course of, “however there are issues it’s best to expertise in highschool and faculty that you simply wouldn’t actually be capable to get again.”
And there’s nonetheless tons Wilcher needs to expertise earlier than he will get right down to Chapel Hill: “I need to win that New Jersey Gatorade Participant of the 12 months—no matter I’ve to do to get that. I need to play within the McDonald’s Recreation, the Jordan Model recreation. I gotta be sure all that stuff occurs [first].”
Portraits by Jonathan Lewis.