Georgia super substitute Damien Wilkins is outrunning the shadow of his famous family members to make a name for himself. The son of former NBA player Gerald Wilkins and the nephew of former NBA slam dunk champion Dominique Wilkins, Damien is getting praise from Jim Harrick for his effort and persistence.
Wilkins transferred from North Carolina State to Georgia after his sophomore season. According to Harrick, the Georgia program is benefiting greatly from all of the hard work that the Wolfpack staff did in developing Wilkins.
"Its kind of unfair for NC State that we reap the benefits of the seeds that they sewed," he said. "You bring a young person in and you feed him and water him and give him some sunshine and two years later you expect him to grow," said Harrick. And grow Wilkins has.
When Wilkins transferred to Georgia he was forced to sit out a year because of NCAA rules. Harrick says that sitting out a year was critical in Wilkins' development.
"When a guy transfers, then he gets to sit out. And that's the time when (a player) should really mature as a young person and be the best that he can be," said Harrick. And Harrick believes that Wilkins has.
Playing several positions in each game, Wilkins' performance has improved as the season has progressed.
"In my opinion, Damien is the most improved player on our basketball team and I am talking about learning the fundamentals as I teach them. He has learned all the things that we do at our program and he just keeps getting better and better," said Harrick.
Not only has Wilkins improved in terms of fundamentals, he has also provided a scoring punch when needed. His best game this season came against Kentucky when he scored 21 points in 26 minutes of play. Harrick says that Wilkins' versatility has helped him achieve.
"I like when Wilkins is in the game for us," Harrick said, "because he is such a strong player for us at four positions. He really causes match up problems."
It appears that Wilkins has no plans on slowing down either. He is what is known as a gym rat.
"I can't keep him out of the gym," said Harrick. "He might be in the gym right now. He is in the gym all of the time. He's in the gym shooting; He's in the gym working on his game and that's why he's our best foul shooter in conference (play)."
So how will Damien outgrow the shadows of Dominique and Gerald?
"Damien's got great character. He is one of the great young persons that I have ever met in my life. How good he becomes is up to Damien. He's not going to be Dominique and he's not going to be Gerald but he's going to be Damien Wilkins and I think that what he wants to be," Harrick said.