For graduating senior Jeameril Wilson, returning to Loyola University Chicago for a postgraduate year will bring him full circle.
Wilson said his school choice was about more than just returning to his hometown of Chicago, but that Loyola Chicago provides the best fit for him to finish his collegiate hoops career.
As a result of the NCAA’s expansion of athletic eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to compensate for the 2020 season that was cut short, Wilson has one year left of eligibility. He said he was contacted by 40 schools during his time in the transfer portal. While Loyola Chicago is in Wilson’s hometown, Wilson said it was the program’s success that he was drawn to most.
“I only have one year left of college basketball, so I don’t have time to build or create (a winning team),” Wilson said. “What really sold me about Loyola is what they have already. It’s like jumping on a moving train.”
Loyola men’s basketball team went 25-8 last season and won the Missouri Valley Conference Championship before losing to Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Some may remember the Ramblers from their run in the NCAA Tournament in 2018, when they made the Final Four as an 11-seed and gained national stardom as the tournament’s Cinderella story.
Wilson said he hopes to make a similar run with next year’s team and has dreamed of playing in the tournament since he was a kid.
In his senior year, Wilson was the second highest leading scorer on the team, averaging 11.2 points. In the quarterfinals of the Patriot League tournament, his career high 23 points led the Mountain Hawks to the next round.
Freshman Tyler Whitney-Sidney said Wilson is a “hooper.”
“There is a difference between a basketball player and a hooper,” Whitney-Sidney said. “A basketball player is able to go out there and do what they have to do, but they don’t hurt you. A hooper is someone who you can give the ball to, and they can score at any time or place. I think that’s Jeameril Wilson.”
Nic Lynch, the only other graduating senior this year, said he and Wilson are best friends.
Lynch said Lehigh basketball taught him and Wilson to do things the right way, even when the team was struggling.
“It’s been a blast playing with him,” Lynch said. “I am going to miss playing with him next year, but obviously, I am really happy for him that he is going to a really good program at Loyola Chicago.”
While Loyola Chicago’s proven success is the main reason that Wilson is playing there, he said it will be exciting to play in front of family and friends in his hometown.
Wilson said he has always been a fan of the Ramblers because the first time he played organized basketball was at Loyola Park, near campus. He said he knows people that still play basketball there now.
“It’s full circle,” Wilson said. “It’s crazy to think about my first time playing organized basketball in that (Loyola) neighborhood. I’m ending my college career in that same exact spot I started.”
In addition to becoming close with his new teammates and coaches at Loyola Chicago, Wilson will also have to work on building a relationship with Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the 102 year-old team chaplain who became famous during the team’s 2018 March Madness run.
Wilson said he will do his best to make a good impression on her.
Wilson will graduate from Lehigh with a degree in finance. He said he will either do a one-year MBA program or get his Master’s in Finance at Loyola Chicago.