The WCU men's basketball team opened up the 2012-13 season officially with its first practice of the season in the Ramsey Center, Friday evening.
Western Carolina head men's basketball coach Larry Hunter promoted former Catamount point guard Eric Wilson to the position of full-time assistant coach on his staff in early October, 2010. Wilson spent the past year working as the Director of Basketball Operations on Hunter's staff.
Wilson replaces former assistant coach Wade O'Connor who took another position following last season. Wilson joins current assistants Andre Gray and Anquell McCollum on staff with Hunter.
"I am very excited to be elevating Eric Wilson to a full time position on our basketball staff," said Hunter who is entering his sixth season at the helm of the Catamount program. "Eric has spent the last year and a half serving as the Director of Basketball Operations while working on his Masters degree in Entrepreneurship at Western Carolina University. In a short time period, Eric has proven he is a talented young coach who has a relentless work ethic and passion for the game. His high character and many accomplishments at Western Carolina as a former student-athlete have allowed him to gain the respect of our players."
Hunter added, "Eric has a terrific understanding of our system and has gained valuable experience working in the office assisting our staff in all phases of our operation. His personality, tenacity, people skills, loyalty, and love for our program and WCU will enable him to be a tremendous representative and salesman for our program. Eric was an outstanding person, player, leader, and captain in our program and it gives me great pleasure in hiring him for this position."
As the Director of Basketball Operations, Wilson, a 2008 graduate of WCU's College of Business, was primarily responsible for many of the day-to-day operations of the team including travel while also assisting in video exchange.
A native of Lincolnton, N.C., Wilson began his career as a Catamount as a walk-on with the men's basketball team in 2004-05. However, midway through his sophomore season (Jan. 2006) - the first year of Hunter's tenure in Cullowhee - Wilson was awarded a full scholarship by Hunter.
During his four-year career at WCU, Wilson earned the moniker of defensive specialist, generally drawing the assignment of shutting down the opposition's top guard. He recorded his career-high 21 points in November of 2005 in a home win over Atlanta Christian.
All told, Wilson played in 109 games for the Purple & Gold, making 56 career starts including 23 in his senior season alone. He scored 454 career points including 55 career 3-pointers, averaging 4.2 points per game during his Catamount career.
During his senior season when the WCU bench was whittled down to just eight players combined, Wilson stepped up to the challenge issued by Hunter in playing all 40 minutes of three games down the stretch, including going wire-to-wire in the road win at the College of Charleston which snapped a nine-game road losing skid in the all-time, head-to-head series.
Following his graduation, Wilson took his first coaching position with NAIA-member Truett McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga., as an assistant coach in August of 2008. In one season, Wilson helped lead the Bears to a 20-win season, advancing to their conference semifinals. Three players from that squad were also named to the Georgia All-State team.
His experience also includes working as a counselor at a variety of basketball camps including the Doc Watson Basketball Camp in Lincoln County and working at the Georgia Hoops High School Showcase.
Prior to coming to Cullowhee, Wilson was the runner-up for the North Carolina 2-A Mr. Basketball Award as a prep, and was a two-time Midwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year out of Lincolnton High.