Wilson eligible at start for Bobcats

The Bobcats haven’t played a game yet, but scored their first win of the season on Sunday anyway.

Senior transfer Dwight Wilson III was granted his release to play immediately for Ohio University by the NCAA over the weekend. Wilson comes to Athens from James Madison University, and normally would have had to sit the 2020-21 season due to NCAA transfer guidelines.

But, Ohio appealed that Wilson should be allowed to play right away. The Bobcats got a positive answer, and let Wilson know during Sunday’s practice.

“He had some things he talked about with us that we put in the waiver. It was a long process,” explained Ohio head coach Jeff Boals on Monday. “With his, we kept on thinking the last two or three weeks we’d find something out.

“I found out (Sunday) at maybe 10:15 a.m. before we were getting ready for practice.”

With Wilson, the Bobcats land a seasoned, experienced, productive and physical inside presence. He averaged 9.8 points and 9.3 rebounds a game last season for JMU, while shooting 53.4 percent from the field and appearing in 26 games.

Wilson, from Tallahasee, Fla., was plugged in right away at his prior school and Boals is expecting to do the same. Wilson played in 83 games (with 50 starts) over three seasons at James Madison while averaging 7.9 poionts and 6.9 rebounds per game. He’s a career 54.9 percent shooter in college.

With grad transfer Sylvester Ogbonda out after using the last of his eligibility last season, Ohio was looking for interior help. Wilson, and junior college transfer Rifen Miguel (6-8, from Tallahassee CC) figure to eat up a lot of the minutes at center this season for OU.

Sophomore Nolan Foster (6-10) served in a backup capacity last year, and freshman Colin Granger (6-9) will also be potential fits in the middle.

Ohio men’s basketball head coach Jeff Boals points during practice in October 2019. Photo by Jason Arkley

But Ohio already knows what it’s getting with Wilson; toughness, experience and physicality.

“He’s got a great knack for the ball. He can score in the post,” Boals said. “Big, strong. Probably 6-8 and 265. He gives us a guy we can throw the ball to on the block and have something good happen.”

Wilson could also play some minutes as a traditional power forward in a bigger lineup for the Bobcats as Boals said he’s been encouraged by Foster’s development. And in a year where COVID-19 testing remains a constant, and necessary, threat to roster stability nationwide, depth will be important.

Foster has been dealing with a knee injury the couple of weeks, but has been recently cleared to return to practice.

“The jump that (Foster) made was phenomenal,” Boals said.

“I think it’ll kind of be by committee. Opportunity is going to be there at some point,” he added. “You got to be prepared for it …. Because of everything that’s happening with the virus.”

Ohio left Monday for Illinois where it will play in a three-game, round-robin event at the FIghting Illini’s State Farm Center. The Bobcats open with Chicago State on Wednesday at approximately 5 p.m. ET.

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