Kansas forward Jalen Wilson accepted a pass from point guard Remy Martin on the wing, then decided to hold the ball rather than push a 5-on-4 advantage and attack the basket with 45 seconds left and the Jayhawks leading North Carolina, 70-69. , in the NCAA title game on April 4 at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.
“Jalen Wilson’s pretty incredible sportsmanship,” college basketball analyst Ken Pomeroy wrote on Twitter in response to Wilson allowing UNC’s Armando Bacot to drop back in defense after spraining his right ankle as he (Bacot) committed a turnover on the Tar Heels’ previous offensive possession.
“It’s one of the best examples of sportsmanship you’ll ever see,” SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell wrote. He was impressed as third-year sophomore Wilson returned the ball to Martin, eventually allowing the referees to stop play to deal with the injured Bacot with 38.5 seconds left in the one-point thriller , which was won by KU, 72-69.
“Jalen Wilson should get Most Outstanding Player for showing great sportsmanship in clearing the ball when his team had a clear 5v4 with a minute to go,” Twitter user Femi Abebefe wrote on his social media account.
Another Twitter user, Holden Walter-Warner, added in a written Tweet during the late-game injury timeout: “Jalen Wilson will be in shit if Kansas loses this, maybe rightfully so, but the sportsmanship at this point will be a lasting memory.”
One of the three announcers calling the play, veteran analyst Bill Raftery, had an opposing view regarding Wilson’s reluctance to force action with an opponent in obvious physical distress.
“I’m shocked Kansas didn’t attack” Raftery said as the teams huddled on their respective benches. “You feel very bad for Bacot but you have to take advantage of this situation. (It was also) good officiating. Once it was settled, 5v5, take care of the injured player, but boy, you have to punish people when you have an opportunity like that,” added Raftery of having numbers on crunch-time possession. .
All’s well that ended well for KU as Wilson and the Jayhawks managed to hold off UNC and win the school’s fourth NCAA Tournament crown in history and second in Bill’s era. Self.
In an attempt to set the record straight regarding one of the most talked about plays in the 2022 championship contest, The Star asked Wilson on Sunday during a Barnstorming Tour event at Blue Valley Northwest High School if “the Sportsmanship” was indeed the reason he didn’t shoot a three or take the ball to the hoop and maybe attempt a driving layup that could have extended the Jayhawks’ narrow lead. .
“Yes,” Wilson said without hesitation. “I saw that he (Bacot) was down. I thought they (referees) were going to call it (injury time out). I wasn’t going to force something like that.
Wilson added: “I was dribbling the ball (after accepting a pass from Martin who stole the ball from Bacot at the other end then slowly dribbled downfield) just wondering what was going on. I thought the ref was going to stop him. I said, ‘Oh, I’ll wait.’
Wilson had to make a split-second decision in the heat of the moment.
“Believe me, there was a lot going on,” Wilson said with a smile.
KU’s Wilson was again a factor once play resumed.
He passed the ball to power forward David McCormack, whose inside bucket over UNC’s Brady Manek gave KU a 72-69 lead with 22 ticks remaining.
Yes, KU ended up scoring on possession despite initially being denied that 5v4 opportunity.
“One of the dumbest plays we’ve done…Bacot twists his ankle and he’s lying on the ground and we’re playing 5v4 and we’re not attacking,” KU coach Self said last week while speaking on “Glue Guys” podcast by former KU striker Landen Lucas. “No one really knew what to do,” Self added. “Och (Agbaji, senior guard) was actually shouting at Jalen, ‘What are you doing? Let’s go.’ And we did such a bad job that the officials let everything fall into place and did the right thing by stopping the game. Well… what a blessing that was for us.
Let him explain himself. …
“Bacot was injured. He had to come out,” Self said of the 6-foot-10 Bacot. “Manek (6-foot-9) had to guard David (McCormack, 6-foot-10) and that was the exact play we were going to run because we had a lag on the inside. If we (Wilson) had attacked, we might not have been smart enough to play through this and we were smart enough to play through this (after a timeout). Of course, David turned around and made a great hook to win the game. I’d like to say “good training”, but we also got lucky too.
A McCormack bucket after a timeout is what Wilson envisioned as he waited for the injured Bacot to cross the half-court line and the referees to stop the action.
“We scored. Dave scored. It worked,” Wilson said with a smile.
Turns out Wilson, from Denton, Texas also played a key role in KU McCormack’s senior big man converting a stickback basket after McCormack’s miss with 1:21 left. McCormack’s bucket gave KU a 70-69 lead.
“If you go back and look at the tape where David scored his first basket of the last two that took us forward by one, he got an offensive rebound. Instead of fanning it, it went back and Manek and Bacot were both guarding it,” Self said. “What Jalen Wilson did was very subtle… he cut at the baseline when David worked through the middle.
“Bacot backed him (McCormack) down to keep the cut from Wilson and that gave David a free basket with no contest. (It was) lucky,” Self said emphatically. “If Jalen hadn’t cut, Bacot probably would have stayed on David.
“David didn’t have to score on an opponent on the basket who put one on us because Jalen cut and Manek was on one side. Bacot backed him up to keep Wilson. That allowed him (McCormack) to turn around and be naked,” Self added.
Wilson finished the game with 15 points, four rebounds and two assists in 34 minutes. He was delighted to have been able to produce during critical times while serving as an example of good sportsmanship on such a large stage.
“I don’t know if he did it on purpose or not – sure it looked like it – but how about the incredible sportsmanship of Jalen Wilson not going for the jugular on UNC in the last minute of the national championship with a 5-of-4 while Bacot was down and in visible pain”, wrote Twitter user Derek Dunning.
“Jalen Wilson with the ‘Sportsman of the Century’ award, holding on while Bacot limped. My God,” chimed in Adam Prescott on Twitter.
From Twitter user Sheila Dokken: “@KUHoops should be proud of Jalen Wilson – incredible sportsmanship who doesn’t take advantage of injury. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Way to show off! #empathy #sportsmanship .
Finally from Twitter user Sodak“Jalen Wilson showed incredible sportsmanship by not taking advantage of Bacot’s fall from UNC. In the last minute of the national championship, the character of Wilson and the KU players was incredible. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson have raised this young man and deserve to be commended.
Wilson concluded this discussion by saying that Bacot is not just a fierce competitor but a friend.
“We went to camps together in high school. He’s a good guy,” Wilson said of Bacot, a native of Richmond, Va., who finished the title game with 15 points and 15 rebounds in 38 minutes.
This story was originally published May 4, 2022 9:38 a.m.