Willie Wilson shed light on his departure from University of the East and, ultimately, the Philippines last Friday.
Wilson, a 6-foot-3 product of Minneapolis North High School and was serving residency in UE, went on social media to explain that a “promise” to him by Red Warriors head coach Jack Santiago was not fulfilled. And that promise was that after he served residency, he will be slotted as the foreign student-athlete of UE for UAAP Season 86.
“Coach Jack promised ‘on a stack of bibles’ that I would be the FSA for Season 87. I was sold on the idea that if I attended and passed my classes and performed on the court that I would be the FSA for Season 86. Instead, all along Coach Jack knew there was another FSA spending his residency in the US while enrolled in online classes,” read his statement.
Wilson, along with good friend Gani Stevens left University of Santo Tomas a year ago, to commit to UE.
Though Stevens was allowed to play as he is a local, Wilson had to sit out one year.
“After working out in front of Coach Jack and the UE staff, we felt comfortable with the idea of attending UE. Prior to committing, we discussed with Coach Jack our experience and disappointment with my UST stint,” he said.
“While Gani and I might have come to the Philippines together, my parents made it clear that we are not a package deal. It was communicated to all parties involved that the interest in me was independent of Gani’s status with the team. Having gone through the eligibility rules with UST, I was aware of the residency rule in which an incoming FSA would have to sit out 2 semesters before becoming eligible in the UAAP.”
During his residency period, Wilson played in numerous “Team B” leagues, including the Pinoyliga Cup.
Wilson averaged 10.66 points, 2.0 assists, and 1.11 steals in the ongoing Next Man cUP.
Wilson though said that he was only made aware that he was just going to be a backup through a teammate.
“I was led to believe that I secured the FSA slot for Season 86. In fact, it was not until January 2023, that we were informed by Coach Jack that the other FSA decided to remain home.
“After my holiday break in the US, I enrolled for the second semester and returned to practice in preparation for our Pinoyliga campaign. I was made aware by one of my teammates that I should meet with Coach Jack to reaffirm my status as the incoming FSA for Season 86. During the conversation, however, I was perplexed as to why my status as FSA was suddenly in jeopardy since nothing had been communicated to me up until this point. As the lone FSA on campus, and my active presence in all team activities, I was under the impression that the spot was mine,” he recalled.
The Philippines had become a dead-end to him since if he transfers to another UAAP school, he will have to sit out another year.
Thus, he decided to move back to the US to continue his studies and playing career.
“Since I was enrolled in UE, I would not be eligible to play for any other UAAP team without sitting out Season 86. Another year away from competitive basketball was not an option. As long as Coach Jack is at the helm in UE, I no longer have interest in the program and feel for those who have to continue their basketball careers under his leadership or lack thereof,” he expressed.
“Hence, due to scheduling issues, it comes with a heavy heart that I am unable to finish the Pinoyliga Tournament. I wish my teammates the best of luck as they play in their first Pinoyliga finals game hopefully en route to a Championship. It was an honor to have had the opportunity to share the floor with all of you through all the hard-fought wins and tough losses. I will be cheering you on.”