Cecily Wilson wasn’t just the best girls basketball player in Arizona this season. She also was the most valuable.
Where would Gilbert Mesquite have been without Wilson? Coach Candice Gonzales shudders at the thought.
“I don’t even want to imagine it,” Gonzales said. “I mean, she literally was the fuel to everything. She made us who we were. I can’t imagine where we would’ve finished without her. I don’t even know if we would’ve finished in the top 10.”
As it were, Mesquite grabbed the No.2 seed in the Division I playoffs, falling in an upset to Chandler Hamilton in the quarterfinals.
But Wilson was the reason Mesquite even was in the championship conversation to begin with, and for her efforts she has been selected azcentral sports’ 2013-14 Big Schools (Divisions I and II) Player of the Year and leads the American Family Insurance All-USA Arizona team.
A 5-foot-9 senior, Wilson played guard and forward but was equally comfortable at any spot on the floor. She played bigger than her size, frequently fighting for rebounds and outmuscling her opponents down low, but could also surprise with her speed and effortless ability to get to the basket.
In addition to best and most valuable, Wilson also has a case as one of the more improved players in the state. She increased her scoring average by 6.1 points over last season, from 13.5 to 19.6, and upped her rebounding by 2.6, from 6.4 to 9.0.
“CeCe’s grown a lot between last year and this year,” Gonzales said. “For her to really grasp what high school basketball is all about and what it really means, she has done a great job with that.
“I’ve always known she was capable of accomplishing this. It was just a matter of getting her to believe that. She really finally bought into it, and I think that was the biggest thing. She finally believed that she could do it, and she did it.”
For Wilson, becoming a leader on and off the court was part of a natural process of maturation and understanding.
“I just had to step up and take the role,” she said. “I’ve been on varsity all four years, and the girls look up to me.”
Wilson now heads to Long Beach State, where she hopes to make an immediate impact as a freshman.
She admits it will be weird to never again put on a Mesquite jersey, but looking back she’s proud of her high school accomplishments.
“I think I did the best that I could do all four years,” she said. “I learned, I grew, I matured. It was probably the best four years that I’ve ever had playing basketball. It was a great experience, and it sucks that it’s over.”
Yes, but she’s about to start a new chapter. And chances are, she’s got some good years of basketball left to play.