Note to a fellow basketball junkie:
You've got to see this 6-foot-5-inch wiry kid I saw the other night.
He gets off his feet quicker than anybody on the floor and he can sky. He plays defense like he learned that before learning how to shoot. When he's not forcing turnovers on the point of the press, he's shutting down the other team's big guy inside.
Now here's the kicker. He scores 28 points a game. He's a lot like Kenny Battle, but he doesn't go to West Aurora, it's East Aurora.
If you don't have a chance to see him this year, then make a point of it next season. He's only a junior. Name's Thomas Wyatt.
Thomas Wyatt, who joins King's Jamie Brandon as the two juniors on this year's Tribune All-State first team, has been a fixture in East Aurora coach Scott Martens' lineup since he moved to Aurora from Tennessee the summer before his freshman year.
The kid who arrived with only a turnaround jumper in his arsenal has come up with a few other moves which have allowed him to score 1,878 points in 90 career games.
But he's far from a one-dimensional player. He also has hauled down more than 830 career rebounds and makes East's vaunted full-court press click.
"I haven't seen too many players that work as hard on the press, the defensive end and the boards that also can score 28 points a game," Martens says. "He's in great shape and gives 100 percent."
"I love playing on the head of the press," says Wyatt, who rarely gets a rest during a game. "It's exciting and makes the other team speed up what they're doing."
Part of Wyatt's conditioning during the summer includes playing in pickup games at Farnsworth or McCullough parks in Aurora. There, he gets a chance to go head-to-head with such talents as Illinois' starting forward Battle; Eastern Illinois' Jay Taylor, who set an all-time season scoring record in the American Mid-Continent Universities Conference this year with 748 points; Northern Illinois graduate Rodney Davis and former Illinois-Chicago star Cubby Lathen.
Wyatt fits right in.
"I'm steadily learning from the guys who come home from college," says Wyatt, who also honed his skills last summer by playing at the Nike All-American camp, the Junior Olympics and Prairie State Games. "It's fun to play the pickup games, when you want to show your stuff."
He obviously has made an impression.
"He's an athlete," Taylor, an East High graduate, says of Wyatt. "He's relentless on defense, always hustling. He's everywhere, like Kenny Battle.
"Is he just a junior? Well, see, he still has time to develop, too. I think he has a good chance to go Division I and be successful."
Wyatt's high school career has been nothing but successful. The Tomcats have reached the Sweet 16 the last three years, and their trip to the Class AA state quarterfinals this season was their second in a row.
With Wyatt back, their chances of making it three straight appearances in Champaign next year are quite possible.
"Before he's done, he'll be one of the Top 10 scorers in Illinois," says Martens.
What is particularly pleasing to Martens, however, is the manner in which Wyatt carries himself. He's a pretty classy kid.
"The principal, superintendent and I got a letter the other day from one of the East Aurora fans that talked to (Wyatt) out at the mall," says Martens. "She was just so impressed with his friendliness, his outgoingness and his personality that she wrote us all a letter and said that not only was she proud that Thomas was an East Aurora player, she was proud of how well he represented the school."
He certainly has represented East Aurora to the highest degree on the basketball court.Copyright © 2015, CT Now