Clay Wilson is a sophomore guard on the men’s basketball team. He is second on the team in scoring this season, with 9.1 points per game, and leads the team in three-point attempts — the classic sixth man. He sat down with the ‘Prince’ to discuss basketball, faith and Justin Bieber.
Q: Where are you from, and what is your favorite part about it?
A: I’m from Oklahoma, so just the slowed-down pace. The people are really nice, and you’re never really in a hurry, so you can just do whatever you want whenever you want to, and nobody’s really pushing you to make deadlines or anything. You can just slow down.
Q: When did you start playing basketball?
A: I got my first basketball when I was 3 years old, from my grandparents, and when I got it, I just started playing. My brother is older than me, and we started playing on the same team — he was 5, and I was 3.
Q: Was it always basketball for you?
A: Yeah, always. I played football, but I stopped playing as soon as I got into high school.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not on the court?
A: I guess just hanging out with my teammates. Here there’s not really too much time to do anything else besides hang out or do homework, so I would say hanging out.
Q: You’re involved in Princeton Faith and Action. Has faith always been an important part of your life?
A: Yeah, faith is a huge part of my life, and it has been ever since I was born. I went to a Christian high school where our church [and] our pastor founded our high school, and I’ve been there since it started. It’s always had a huge impact on me, and I wouldn’t be playing basketball without faith.
Q: How did you end up coming to Princeton?
A: It’s a long story ... I was being recruited by a lot of different schools. I’d never even really heard of the Ivy League or Princeton or anything like that, and then a kid from my high school came up here, [junior receiver] Roman Wilson, to play football. His dad just happened to see one of the basketball coaches and told him that there was a kid at Roman’s high school who was being recruited by a lot of schools, and then the coach here, Sydney Johnson [’97], just asked if I wanted to come to [Princeton’s] elite camp, so I came up here for that and fell in love with the place right away and then committed here pretty soon after that.
Q: What has been the highlight of your career here?
A: That’s a tough one; there are so many good things. Just being in the whole Princeton basketball tradition. It’s something that once I got into Princeton I found out about pretty quickly, and just being a part of something bigger than yourself has been really my highlight.
Q: What’s the best part of being an athlete at Princeton?
A: I would say the best part is getting to live out a dream that I have had of playing college basketball and being blessed enough to play at one of the most prestigious schools in the world at the same time. God has really blessed me.
Q: What’s the worst?
A: The worst part is finding time. The best part is probably having to manage your time, for when you get into the real world [I feel like] it’s going to be a lot easier than it is now.
Q: Who is the funniest guy on the team?
A: I’d say [sophomore center] Bob Garbade. He’s just a goofball. I don’t know, he’s great at impersonations of all of our coaches and of our strength trainer.
Q: Who’s the most ridiculous one he does?
A: Our strength trainer ... JD [James DeVincenzi] is about 5-foot-6, and Bob is about 6-foot-11. It’s pretty funny.
Q: You’re second on the team in scoring so far this season. What did you do to improve over the offseason, and how do you think you can continue this productivity?
A: I don’t know, I’ve just been blessed with the opportunity I’ve got. Coach talked to me after [the] season last year and told me to really work on playing a lot more. I’d done a bunch of drills my whole life, but I needed to play and see the game differently. So playing this summer, I went to [the University of Oklahoma] and played with the Sooners a couple times. We went to Spain as a team, so that was a good opportunity just to play before the season really started ... Confidence was really lacking from my game last year, and this year I just made a choice just to be confident, and it’s really helped out a lot. So I would say mainly playing is the biggest part.
Q: What is your go-to shot?
A: I’d say the three-pointer.
Q: Are there any interesting road-trip rituals?
A: For me, I like to listen to Christian music, right before games and on the bus, just because a lot of people like to get pumped up before games and I like to just settle down. So I’ve done that my whole life, and that’s something I continue to do here. For the team, I don’t really know. I guess we all have our individual stuff.
Q: Who do you think would win if the guys team played the girls?
A: Ha, the guys.
Q: So I hear you like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and One Direction. Can you tell me about that?
A: Who told you all this? Yeah, I would say my favorite kind of music is country music. Growing up in Oklahoma, that’s what I’ve been conditioned to, and me and my little brother, every time we go to school or anytime we do anything, we just turn on country music and listen to it. The Justin Bieber thing, I just like his dance moves, try to emulate them so whenever I go down the street I try and do those.
Q: It’s been classified by some of your teammates as a creepy obsession. Would you agree with that assessment?
A: No, I don’t know if I would go that far. I would say it might be an obsession, but not a creepy one.
Q: Which one do you think is the best, and can any of them even compare to your “cousin” Roman’s national anthem performance before last Saturday’s game?
A: Roman did a great job. I was more nervous for him than I was for the game, actually. I thought his voice was going to crack or something. My parents were back home listening to it on the radio too, and I would say yeah, no one’s got anything on Roman. He’s been trying to go to The X-Factor or American Idol forever, he talks about it all the time, but he’s good. Hopefully he can do something like that.
Q: Who would you say your idol is, either in sports or outside?
A: I would say Tim Tebow. He’s just a really solid guy and a really solid Christian and somebody who guys look up to. Regardless of how well he plays, he always is the same person after the game. That’s what I’ve been trying to do this year. Win or lose, be the same person and not let it affect me, but come back stronger the next game. Tim Tebow is someone I look up to a lot.