Lake Travis’ Garrett Wilson reaches top of our Fab 50 athletes list


Kenny Wilson and his son Garrett were having a friendly debate about the greatest basketball player of all time.

While watching the recent NBA Finals together, Garrett — a multisport athlete who just finished his junior year at Lake Travis High School — built a case for his favorite player, Cleveland icon LeBron James. Kenny, who played in the NBA in the 1980s, gave Michael Jordan the nod.

“You’re just a prisoner of the moment,” Kenny told his son.

“You’re just a prisoner of the past,” Garrett responded.

They laughed at each other and continued to watch the game.

Garrett Wilson has never needed a holiday to celebrate Father’s Day. The Cavaliers’ star wide receiver — and the No. 1-ranked recruit in the state on the American-Statesman’s Fabulous 55 list; he has committed to Ohio State — has blazed a trail of football stardom, and his dad has been his constant shadow. And he’ll continue to walk a step behind.

While all five of Kenny and Candace Wilson’s children — Shea, Cameron, Donovan, Garrett and Sydney — have succeeded athletically, Garrett has become transcendent. He’s not a one-sport wonder. Also a dynamic basketball player, he led Lake Travis to a 30-8 record before the Cavaliers fell to Westlake in the Class 6A, Region IV championship game in March. And he ran track in the spring.

Wilson has been selected the Central Texas high school athlete of the year for the 2017-18 school year by the Statesman in our annual look at the area’s top 50 athletes.

While basketball remains a passion for Wilson — he was offered scholarships by Tennessee for football and basketball — he is best known for his artistry as a receiver. Last fall he had 98 catches for 1,774 yards while accounting for 32 total touchdowns to help Lake Travis reach the Class 6A, Division I state championship game.

His spectacular sideline catch in the title game against Allen was named ESPN’s play of the day, one honor Wilson described as “a dream come true.”

SMU was the first football team to offer Wilson a scholarship. That was hardly a surprise considering SMU coach Chad Morris — who has since taken over at Arkansas — was a two-time state championship coach at Lake Travis.

That began an avalanche of more than 30 offers from teams such as Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, TCU, Florida, USC, Nebraska and Texas.

Kenny Wilson had a feeling Garrett might be a special athlete after a family cruise about eight years ago.

Kenny already knew something about talent. He had a successful career of his own, scoring 1,573 points at Davidson College, which ranks him seventh on the school’s all-time scoring list. He was inducted into the Davidson Hall of Fame in 2004. He also had a brief career in the NBA, playing for the Denver Nuggets and Washington Bullets.

So what happened on the ship?

He and his three older sons played pickup basketball games against other cruise patrons. The Wilsons won every game with ease until the other teams asked whether they could “even out” the disparity of talent. So Kenny suggested each team add a fifth player.

“The other teams thought they’d have more of an advantage when I selected Garrett to be our fifth guy,” he recalled. “He was only 9 or 10.”

The Wilson family continued to dominate the ship games, and young Garrett played a prominent role.

“Garrett was better than 90 percent of the adults who were playing,” Kenny said.

Garrett was born in Chicago but spent most of his formative years in Columbus and Dublin, Ohio. He remembers playing in a youth football league in Dublin for a team called the Titans and scoring three touchdowns in a game.

“Kenny and Garrett have always been very close,” Candace said. “They were always watching sports or talking about sports.”

Candace recalls a family trip to Davidson in 2009. Kenny introduced 8-year-old Garrett to a sharpshooting guard who would eventually become an NBA legend.

Steph Curry, a Davidson senior, had a brief chat with Garrett.

“All he told me was to make sure I stayed in school,” Garrett said.

The Wilsons moved to Austin when Garrett was preparing for the sixth grade. When he attended a Lake Travis football game during his first year in town, he knew he wanted to be a Cavalier someday.

“I’d never seen anything like Texas high school football before,” he said.

Yet when it came time to choose a college, Wilson experienced a conflict between two of college football’s most storied programs — Texas and Ohio State. He still holds fond memories of watching the Buckeyes at old Ohio Stadium. But after living in Austin for almost half of his young life, he also has developed close ties with Texas.

Kenny, however, said he knew long ago that his son would choose Ohio State.

“In my opinion, Garrett was in a no-lose situation,” Wilson said. “I believe that Tom Herman and Texas football will be great in the future. Ohio State is already there.”

Being a prolific athlete does have some drawbacks, Garrett said. He missed his junior prom last month because his seven-on-seven team from Houston was playing in a tournament in California. He’s had to skip parties and family functions. He will most likely miss his senior prom, too, because he plans to enroll at Ohio State in January.

A new life chapter will begin.

Wilson will be armed with more than football skills when he moves back to Columbus. He’ll take a family bond that doesn’t diminish over long distances. Beginning in 2019, Kenny and Candace Wilson plan to attend as many Buckeyes games as they can.

“Garrett is a very good person, a nice boy, a good guy,” Kenny said. “I have a lot of respect and regard for him. I don’t look at it like a father-son relationship. I look at it more as a friendship.

“I never had to be a dad to tell him to clean up his room, do his homework, come home on time. He’s a no-nonsense boy, and I’m very fortunate he’s my son.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in High School Sports

High school football game preview: Fredericksburg vs. Wimberley
High school football game preview: Fredericksburg vs. Wimberley

GAME OF THE DAY Fredericksburg (2-1) vs. Wimberley (1-2) 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Texan Stadium, Wimberley Quarterback: Fredericksburg senior Brant Bowers has thrown for 277 yards a game with eight TDs and four INTs, and he leads a unit that averages 31.7 points and more than 400 yards a game. … First-year starter Cooper McCollum has thrown for 640...
Letters to the Sports Editor

Foster should be kicked off for his behavior I watched the game on television between USC and UT and found the behavior of B.J. Foster and fellow football players disgusting. As he was being escorted off the field, his fellow teammates were giving him praise for his illegal behavior. I think the whole incident (was) ugly and even Foster’s behavior...
The Dotted Line: USC visitor list provides hint for Texas’ recruiting wish list
The Dotted Line: USC visitor list provides hint for Texas’ recruiting wish list

Texas’ recruiting class grew to 16 members Sunday when four-star running back Derrian Brown pledged to the Longhorns following his official visit to Austin for the USC game. Tom Herman’s program picked up momentum on and off the field with the victory over the Trojans, moving to 2-1 on the season in front of dozens...
NBA star Russell Westbrook, wife Nina expecting twin girls
NBA star Russell Westbrook, wife Nina expecting twin girls

NBA star Russell Westbrook and his wife, Nina, announced Tuesday they are expecting twin girls in a YouTube video produced by the Oklahoma City Thunder. >> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  The video is called "The Westbrook Family." Nina lets out the news they're having twins 2:12 into...
Bohls: The Houston Astros make perfect sense for the Express
Bohls: The Houston Astros make perfect sense for the Express

1. The worst-kept secret in the 512 will be Thursday’s announcement that the Houston Astros are returning to Central Texas to link up with the Round Rock Express, this time as their Triple-A affiliate. The two were connected for 11 successful years with the Astros’ Double-A team (and one Triple-A team) playing at Dell Diamond, shipping...
More Stories