By Mark F. Gray
AFRO Staff Writer
mgray@afro.com

For Henry A. Wise High School boys varsity basketball coach Louis Wilson, Jr., making an impact on the lives of young people is part of his DNA.  The Prince George’s County Schools’ Facilities Administration building was renamed posthumously after his father in 2019 after an accomplished career. 

His father dedicated his vocation to helping change the lives of young people who would become successful contributors to the community.

Former players, friends and family join in the celebration following Wise coach Louis Wilson Jr. ‘s (center) 700th win. (Courtesy Photo)

Wilson, Jr. took that to heart, and for over three decades, he has used the platform as a basketball coach to follow in the footsteps of his father.  When the Pumas defeated Suitland 75-60 he won his 700th game in what has become a storied career. However, it was more that just a testament to the younger Wilson’s basketball acumen.  It was an extension of what he learned from his father.

“It’s a blessing from God to be in the business of changing lives and coaching basketball,” Wilson said in an interview with the AFRO.  “I was fortunate to have a God fearing father who taught me how to work hard and try to be a role model for mankind.”

During his 33 years as a coach, basketball and education have been the tenets for Wilson to impact the lives of his players.  He conservatively estimates that over 200 of his former athletes have gone to college on basketball scholarships after being influenced by his guidance during their critical high school years. He speaks with reverence about his relationship with former Georgetown forward Don Reid, who he coached at Riverdale Baptist before a successful NBA career.  That relationship symbolizes the familial relationships, which are at the core of his success.

Every year I look forward to getting the Christmas card from Don and his family,” Wilson said.  “To see how he and so many of my players have gone on to become successful professionals and the fact he makes a point to keep me in mind during the holidays is what it’s all about.  Watching them grow into successful husbands, fathers and citizens motivates me.”

Each year the ultimate basketball goals are to win the regional, County and Maryland state championships. There are lofty academic goals – such as a team grade point average of 3.0 – that is also designed to fuel the drive of his players, which has led to success on and off the floor because of the discipline of his challenging academic expectations.

Basketball is the family business, which began organically like his career in coaching.  Following a brief two-year stint as an assistant coach at Howard alongside his collegiate mentor A.B. Williamson, Wilson began a professional vocation that became a calling at the grassroots level and ultimately expanded to high school. He is noted amongst his peers as a master game strategist, who is also one of the best skill developers in the area.

His wife Stacey has been by his side the entire time as a statistician throughout his career.  They can often be found at Bowie State games where their son Bryan has become a CIAA champion, as both a player and assistant coach.  Wilson coached his son from his grassroots days through high school. Now he watches as Bryan has become one of Darrell Brooks most influential assistants at BSU after preparing his son for the opportunity without pushing to follow in his footsteps.

“Things are different than I thought when I was playing,” Bryan Wilson said.  “Now that I’m coaching I can relate to what he was doing as a coach. But the biggest thing I learned is watching him help players on other teams get to that next level.  You’ve got to be good to everybody.”

The traits that made his father a great coach are what the elder sees in his son as his career has begun trending forward.

“Bryan recruits and relates to his players well,” said Wilson. “He also does a great job of developing his players too.”

“Watching him grow as a coach are the fruits of my labor.”